Boracay rehabilitation may go beyond six months

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — The much-awaited reopening of Boracay island may not happen this October, the country's environment chief said.

"Na-offset na 'yung timetable natin. Wala sa initial plan 'yung ganitong trabaho sa beach front," Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a statement on Saturday.

[Translation: "Our timetable has been derailed. This kind of activity at the beach front was not in the initial plan."]

Cimatu, who heads the inter-agency task force in charge of rehabilitating Boracay, said the discovery of illegal pipelines on the beachfront has become a setback in saving Boracay.

A total of 26 pipes have found to be leading to the shoreline, the Environment Department said.

"'Yung mga nahukay ninyong mga tubo na papunta sa beach ay galing sa mga establishment na may dalang bacteria na galing sa dumi ng tao (The buried piples you excavated are from establishments and they carry bacteria from human waste)," he said, as he commended Philippine Army trainees involved in the cleanup.

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Boracay Foundation Incorporated (BFI), the largest group of businessmen on the island, told CNN Philippines the government approved the installations of pipelines, stressing that these were meant to divert rainwater.

Board member Errol Ledesma said businesses under the BFI have their own sewarage systems.

He hopes the island will reopen for business soon. "The earlier, the better sana (I hope)."

Boracay has been closed to tourists since April 26 at President Rodrigo Duterte's order. He said the shutdown will be up to six months, or until October.

Duterte called the world-famous tourist destination "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if its pollution problem went unsolved.

READ: Rebuilding Boracay: Timeline, what to expect