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Boracay closure necessary for unhampered rehab work, and here’s why

abs cbn photos beachfront pipe

It’s week one since Boracay was closed to tourists and non-residents, and already DPWH technical crews have discovered a pipe along the beach that is discharging untreated waste water into the sea. In simple terms, this is like a food tube directly emptying its nutrients — human waste is a feast food for algae — into the beaches of Boracay. It confirms what many have suspected all along: that fecal matter isn’t properly deposited in septic tanks and the water it mixes with doesn’t undergo treatment and cleaning before being released out to sea.

Such work, which is like looking for needles in haystacks, could not have been accomplished if Boracay remained open to tourists as what some sectors have demanded. The measure imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte was too harsh, they argued, and only establishments found to have violated the laws, especially with respect to the water and clean air acts, should have been padlocked.

They missed the whole point. The work that needs to be done is Herculean. And for the government to carry out the mission swiftly is give the agencies involved freedom of movement and action, with not a single hindrance, to do it. How could the engineering crews have unearthed the pipes buried under the sand if there were thousands of tourists enjoying the sun, and the green algae?

We don’t know just how many such pipes have been buried, and hidden, under the sun. It’s possible there are quite a number that were buried deep and the end part far out into the sea to avoid discovery. And then there are the drainage issues that impact on flooding, and the possible trespassing on wet lands and other public spaces.

Clearly, closure was the best course of action, and we are just starting to see why.

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How stupid can stupid be?

Anchor: (In Tagalog) Boracay island is now on its second day of closure to tourists, and tourists and workers in hotels and other establishments have started leaving the island since yesterday. Our reporter is live from Boracay to give us a situationer report on what is going on. Reporter Juan, please come in.

Reporter Juan: That’s right, Boracay has suddenly become a ghost town as thousands of tourists left the island yesterday on the first day of closure. Workers are also leaving the island after their establishments heeded the order of President Duterte and allow an inter-agency task force to start rehabilitation efforts. With us right now is Pedro, who is one of the displaced workers, and is now packing up his things to leave the island. Sir, does your boss still intend to keep his place open (for the duration of the island closure)?

Now, isn’t that a stupid question? What business owner would keep his place open, paying salaries of his workers for six months when there would be no tourists to patronize their hotel or restaurant?

Radio networks should provide training for their reporters and anchors to avoid embarrassing situations like this.

Boracay closure not only for rehab, but also for public safety

Tomorrow (April 26, 2018), what tourists had known as the paradise island will be closed to visitors, at least for six months to allow rehabilitation work to be carried out without hindrance. This is bite-the-bullet treatment imposed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte after an inter-agency task force validated the rampant violations of environmental laws and the building code in the over-congested island. Many businessmen and workers on the island protested that this measure is too harsh. “Punish only those who broke the law,” many resort owners urged.

Boracay

Government workers get ready to provide assistance to displaced workers in Boracay when it is shut down to tourists starting April 26. (Inquirer photo by Nestor Burgos)

But it’s not about finding out who did wrong and limit the fall-out to them and their employees. Boracay Island is now an ICU patient from the environmental point of view. Pictures emerging from the island last week showed the green algae growth on the beaches has gone up, an indication that the coliform level in the water has reached a dangerous point.

Hence, this closure is not only about a clean-up; it’s also protecting the tourists from possible diseases caused by coliform bacteria. It’s a public health issue that should not be ignored in favor of protecting businessmen and workers from the economic losses the closure will bring.