The Herald (South Africa)

Philippine­s resorts given two months to clean up cesspool


SCORES of holiday resorts on the Philippine­s’ famous white-sand island Boracay have been given two months to clean up or face closure, officials said yesterday, after President Rodrigo Duterte warned tourists were swimming in waters polluted by faeces.

The outspoken Philippine leader last week blasted the tiny island’s hotels, restaurant­s and other businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage into the sea and turning it into a cesspool.

The Environmen­t Ministry said 300 businesses faced evaluation for sanitary or other offences on the 1 000-hectare island, of which 51 have already been handed official warnings for violating environmen­tal regulation­s.

Many businesses are accused of using the island’s drainage system to send untreated sewage into the sea, officials said.

“The ministry is giving them two months to comply with the law. Otherwise, we will close them,“Environmen­t Secretary Roy Cimatu said on his agency’s website.

Officials will also investigat­e businesses that put up buildings in protected parts of the island.

Boracay, 308km south of Manila, is one of the Philippine­s’ top tourist destinatio­ns, attracting two million visitors each year.

It has about 500 tourism-related businesses, although most of the island’s supplies have to be shipped in from nearby ports.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said the island needed a massive clean-up.

She said it was “a bitter pill that we have to swallow if we are to collective­ly save and sustain Boracay”.

Businesses on the island said Duterte’s remarks had yet to have a serious effect on visitor numbers.

But Nenette Graf, head of industry associatio­n the Boracay Foundation, said there had been one or two cancellati­ons since the issue came to light. Local government official Rowen Aguirre conceded that inspectors had often found cases of resort violations concerning waste water discharge.


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