For the better part of 2018, vacationers in the Philippines and tourists from overseas have had to do without the crowning jewel of all resort locations in the country: Boracay Island. For six months the resort destination was made over as crews cleaned up litter and algae in the water, dismantled some excessive business and commercial infrastructure, and regulated what remained. While the actual rehabilitation of Boracay is estimated to last a year or two more, it was finally reopened late October. But the inter-agency task force involved has other irons in the fire, more Philippine resorts to “fix up”.
CNN Philippines has it that the Boracay Rehabilitation force that combined the Departments of Environment, Tourism and the Interior, are now making plans to perform the same thorough cleanup they subjected Boracay to, on two other major Philippine resort getaways to be found in the island province of Palawan. Secretaries Eduardo Año (DILG), Roy Cimatu (DENR) and Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (DOT) made a joint announcement Wednesday, November 14, that their task force will soon start to develop rehabilitation plans for the beach municipalities of El Nido and Coron. Once their recommendation is drafted, it will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Unlike however with Boracay, which was subjected to a lockdown that restricted access to all but island residents and cleanup personnel, the Department of Interior and Local Government hopes that the same will not have to happen to the other two. “We can do the clean-up and rehab even without closing El Nido,” remarks Sec. Año, adding that it may be possible “with the cooperation of the LGUs and the public or the tourists coming in.” Adds DENR Sec. Cimatu, “We’ll dedicate a big portion of DENR presence there to focus on these two tourist destinations there…El Nido and Coron.”
Already the task force is seeing repeats of the major problems found in Boracay over with the two major tourist spots on Palawan: bad waste disposal, construction too close to shore, and tourist overcrowding. The DENR has already sent notices to building owners with structures violating shoreline building regulations, and thus far the recipients have been cooperative in self-demolishing. Some 22 tourism-related El Nido businesses have already closed up because of this, with a similar initiative to be launched soon in Coron to the northeast.
Once the rehabilitation for El Nido and Coron has been submitted and approved, the three-department task force also plans to examine the situation with Panglao Island in Bohol, and then the Philippine surfing capital of Siargao in Surigao del Norte.
Image courtesy of News 5