MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sonny Angara on Sunday called on the government to fast-track the rehabilitation of Boracay Island to sustain the country’s growth in tourism.
“We have to get our acts together. Boracay attracts 2 million tourists every year and brings in more than P50 billion in annual revenues. It’s no less named as world’s best island,” Angara said.
“We should not allow it to lose this island just because some establishments do not comply with government regulations,” Angara added in Filipino.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte described the world-famous island as a “cesspool,” threatening it to be closed as garbage problem in the tourist draw is already becoming a major health and environmental concern.
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Tuesday ordered the immediate shut down of 300 business establishments in the island for not complying with environmental laws.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) said that out of 150 business establishments recently inspected by the government, only 25 were connected to the sewage line while a number of them were draining their sewage directly into the sea.
Angara then urged government agencies and local officials to strictly implement existing environmental laws and local ordinances, and penalize erring establishments, as he expressed concern over its implications in the tourism industry of the country.
He also encouraged stakeholders to maximize the Green Jobs Law that incentivizes the creation of jobs that contribute considerably to the preservation of the environment and natural resources.
“Tourism industry is a major economic driver and job generator for the country. Definitely, its closure will have an adverse impact on its locals who depend on the island’s tourism for their livelihood. So don’t let us wait for it to be closed because of our negligence,” the senator said.
“Green jobs can help preserve the pristine waters and powdery white sand of Boracay. Aside from decent works, it will also help for the island’s rehabilitation,” he added.
Green jobs refer to jobs that help “protect ecosystems and biodiversity and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution,” according to Republic Act 10771 that Angara sponsored.