What was done in Boracay island is a showcase of how decisiveness and political will can achieve great results.
Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed dismay over Boracay’s state of decay. The island, which is in the municipality of Malay, Aklan province, is a premier tourist destination with numerous big and small commercial establishments catering to the crowd.
As a result of the untrammeled activity, however, the island has degenerated into what the President called a cesspool, with poor solid waste management and water quality; hence teeming with bacteria and hazardous to health.
The situation had become so dire that President Duterte ordered a shutdown of the island for a six-month cleanup and rehabilitation. During that time, no activity of any kind was allowed.
Boracay will open October 26; it had a soft opening Monday.
When the public is allowed in again, there will be restrictions to ensure the same excesses are not committed anew.
It will be interesting to see how the government both national and local will strike a balance among enticing tourists, generating income for the locals, preserving the rights of indigenous peoples and maintaining environmental standards. Certainly, the cleanup efforts must be replicated in other destinations to send the message that development carries a price. Local executives must also be taken to task for focusing on revenues while disregarding the costs, and establishment owners made accountable for disregarding standards for the sake of business.
The Environment Department says it is now safe to swim again in the waters of Boracay. We hope the water around the island does not ever get contaminated again, from bacteria—or from other vested interests.