The forced closing by President Rodrigo Duterte of the resort island Boracay for an extensive cleanup drive and environmental rehabilitation for six months was heavily covered by the news last year. It was not as if the President’s description of the island as a “cesspool” could be easily denied, with images of severe algal growth on its coastal waters readily found. For an extended closure of Boracay’s resort establishments and travel restrictions to all but registered residents, the result was a visibly cleaner island when it gradually reopened since October 2018, especially as tourist numbers were more controlled. But close to a year later, visitors have started getting careless again.
The Manila Bulletin reports that a section of beach in Boracay Island ended up being temporarily closed for cleanup after it figured in a pretty gross viral video. Said video footage depicted a foreign tourist openly burying a used diaper in the sands close to the coming surf. The incident was fixed from the video to have transpired earlier this week in Boracay station 1. As a result, the local authorities have cordoned off that stretch of beach in order to find, if possible, the buried diapers and to facilitate a mandatory water quality examination.
It was Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that gave the order for the partial shutdown of the resort coastline on Wednesday, August 14. Effective that time, swimmers were prohibited in the area for a period of 48 hours as a precautionary measure. Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) head Natividad Bernardino specified that the amount of beachfront cordoned off from tourists measured some 100 meters from the seaside.
Beachgoers were only too quick to follow regulations as they themselves were disgusted by what transpired in the video, which was put online this Tuesday, August 13. In addition to the woman seen burying a rolled-up diaper in the wet sand, another woman not far from her was shown in footage helping a young child urinate on the shoreline followed by washing the toddler’s bottom in the surf water itself.
According to BIARMG chief Bernardino, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) has been examining water samples taken from the Boracay station 1 area, close to the Willy’s Rock landmark. Until the results come back from them, the shoreline is to remain closed as Bernardino explains, “We have to make sure the area is safe for swimming.”
While Boracay is open again for regulated numbers of tourists every day, its rehabilitation is actually still ongoing. This post-closure rehab comes in three phases, the first ending shortly after the October 2018 reopening, the second ending mid-2019 and the third ongoing until year’s end.
Images: CNN Philippines, Philippine Star