Wanda Teo: 'High time' to shut down 200 erring establishments in Boracay

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo on Friday, February 16, backed the possible closure of 200 business establishments allegedly violating environmental laws in Boracay.

"Secretary Teo lauds the efforts of the DENR, saying it is high time to order the closure of  some 200 tourism establishments, initially, in Boracay found violating environmental laws and regulations," Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre said in a news briefing here.

The violations are related to easement and water and solid waste disposal, Alegre said.

“The massive cleanup of Boracay  is a bitter pill that we have to swallow if we  were to collecively save and sustain Boracay," said Teo, who was also at the news conference.

Responding to questions, Teo said the possible shutdown of hundreds of erring establishments in Boracay Island would have “little” impact on the country's tourism industry.

Asked about the impact of any possible business closures on Philippine tourism, Teo said, “I think it's just limited.”

She added that there are other tourism alternatives in the country.

"Meron namang ibang puwedeng ugar puntahan – there's Bohol, Cebu.  We promote Siargao, Coron kung wala nang Boracay. Meron namang ibang puwede i-promote. (We have other destinations – Bohol, Cebu. We promote Siargao, Coron if there's no more Boracay. There are other places that we can promote)," Teo said.

She said the purpose is to restore Boracay for the next generation. "Now is the time to save Boracay," Teo said.

Hundreds of tourism establishments on the island are facing closure after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shut down the island which, he claimed, had turned into a “cesspool” because of poor sanitation management. 

Teo said to date,  just a few cancellations were recorded by tourism officials in Boracay due to the President's statement.

Duterte gave Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu 6 months to address the environmental woes of Boracay. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has given concerned establishments two months to either connect to the sewage treatment plant of Boracay Island Water Company, or install their own wastewater treatment facilities.

So far,  51 establishments  had been issued notices of violation and were required to have technical conferences with the DENR's Pollution Adjudication Bureau (PAB) this week.

Teo has invited Cimatu and Department of the Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Ano to visit to Boracay in the next two weeks. – Rappler.com