Saving Boracay: Timeline, what to expect

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) — Tourists will have to bid a temporary goodbye to Boracay as the government ordered its closure starting April 26, for a maximum period of six months.

The world-famous tourist destination has recently hogged headlines not for its pristine white beaches but because of the government's crackdown on erring establishments that have polluted the island.

February 9

President Rodrigo Duterte threatens to shut down Boracay, calling it a "cesspool."

"I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool," he said. "You go into the water, it's smelly. Smell of what? Shit," Duterte says.

He orders the Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to clean up the tourist destination in six months.

February 13

Cimatu gives erring establishments two months to either install their own wastewater treatment facilities or connect to the Boracay Island Water Company sewage treatment plant.

He says only 50 to 60 percent of Boracay businesses comply with the Clean Water Act, while "all the rest direct their pipes to the canals which drain to the sea."

Cimatu also says the government will go after resort owners who have constructed buildings in Boracay's forestlands, which are considered "no-build zones" under the law.

He halts the issuance of environmental compliance certificates in Boracay to prevent the construction of new buildings there.

February 14

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) says 51 establishments are facing possible closure after they were found violating the Clean Water Act and issued notices of violation.

February 20

DENR deploys the first "mission team," composed of 50 government personnel tasked to inspect Boracay for any more violations.

DENR says more of its personnel would be assigned to address environmental issues in the island.

February 22

Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre tells CNN Philippines the government is studying proposals to declare a state of calamity in Boracay and shut the island down for as long as 60 days.

He says these suggestions were made during an inter-agency meeting with the tourism and environment officials.

The DENR also says the number of Boracay establishments with environmental lapses has gone up to 81.

February 26

Palace says Duterte mulls filing criminal charges against local government officials found failing to protect the natural environment in Boracay.

DENR says it has started the demolition of some illegal structures in Boracay.

March 1

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) announces a state of calamity is one of the options being explored for Boracay, which includes a 60-day closure of business operations.

March 2

The DILG reports over 800 establishments in Boracay have been found with violations since 2011.

Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources holds a public hearing on environment issues hounding Boracay. Its chairperson, Senator Cynthia Villar suggests closing only the erring establishments instead of shutting the whole island to business.

Cimatu also tells senators five in nine of Boracay's wetlands have been wiped out by a mall, a resort hotel, and around 100 illegal settlers, who pollute the island's water supply.

March 6

Duterte says he will place Boracay under a state of calamity.

March 7

Duterte continues to tackle the issue in public speeches, this time threatening to arrest those who will not cooperate in government efforts for Boracay's rehabilitation - including local government officials.

March 13

The local government of Malay, Aklan's ban on new buildings in Boracay takes effect. It lasts for six months, or up to September 13.

March 14

The Malay government closes down Boracay West Cove, a high-end resort, for failing to secure the necessary permits. West Cove's lawyer says the resort's management will challenge the move before the regional court.

March 15

Environment, Tourism and Interior departments recommend the declaration of a state of calamity in Boracay, to be followed by the temporary closure of the entire island to tourists.

They later reveal eyeing to effect the closure on April 26.

March 20

News breaks out that Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group got the green light for a casino and integrated resort from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. This plan is opposed by the DILG.

March 22

The Tourism Congress of the Philippines requests a meeting with Duterte to appeal the looming Boracay shutdown. It says 36,000 jobs are at stake if Boracay closes down.

Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores tells CNN Philippines the local government is fast-tracking Boracay's rehabilitation starting with the drainage and sewerage system, which it targets to be fixed by May 31.

March 26

DILG's Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco Densing III says charges of serious neglect of duty are being prepared against some local officials. He says Miraflores, Malay Mayor Ceciron Cawaling, and even barangay captains could all face charges.

March 27

Tourist arrivals to Boracay island are still up amid a looming threat of closure, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo tells CNN Philippines.

The Provincial Tourism Extension Office counted arrivals from March 1 to 26 this year at 140,659, up by two percent during the same period last year.

April 4

Duterte orders the closure of Boracay for a maximum period of six months, starting April 26. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque tells CNN Philippines this unanimous decision was reached after a six-hour discussion among Cabinet members.

Major airlines announce scaling down services to Kalibo and Caticlan, the nearest airports going to Boracay. The Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific say affected passengers have the option to rebook, reroute, or refund.

April 9

Duterte says he has no master plan for Boracay.

He calls the island an "agricultural land" which he would subject to land reform once cleaned up.

He also denies reports there are plans to put up a casino in the island, saying "sobra na (that would be too much)."

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) warns Boracay establishments against terminating workers during the closure period, saying employees should be recalled back to work when Boracay reopens.

April 11

Cimatu says his department is investigating the issuance of environment compliance certificates to Boracay businesses. He says charges will be filed against DENR officials who issued the permits without basis.

April 17

Representatives of several government agencies meet with Boracay stakeholders to discuss the government's plans for the island, its residents, and workers.

The DILG says the island destination can have a soft opening in three to four months, if certain criteria are met.

April 24

Boracay's closure and rehabilitation will cost the economy close to ₱2 billion in six months, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) says.

NEDA Chief Ernesto Pernia says while the loss would be realized in the island and nearby municipalities, "the impact on the country as a whole will be minimal."

April 25

A day before the shutdown, two workers and a frequent visitor to the island file a petition asking the Supreme Court to stop the closure.

April 26

Boracay's shutdown takes effect for rehabilitation.

What to expect

Duterte has said he will place Boracay under a state of calamity.

The law defines a state of calamity as "a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard."

It will allow the local government to fully mobilize all agencies and resources to respond to emergencies.

DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año earlier said declaring a state of calamity was being considered as "the plan to rehabilitate Boracay island cannot be achieved under normal circumstances."

Criminal charges are also being prepared against local government officials for serious neglect of duty which may have led to Boracay's pollution, according to the DILG.