DILG eyes 6-month state of calamity in Boracay

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The island of Boracay may face shutdown, after President Rodrigo Duterte said the destination has become a "cesspool." (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 1) — The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is eyeing to declare a six-month state of calamity in Boracay island to speed up rehabilitation and clean-up efforts.

"It's one of the options we're considering because there is concern that the plan to rehabilitate Boracay island cannot be achieved under normal circumstances, meaning when normal commercial activities are in operation," said DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año said in a statement Wednesday.

Año added business operations on the island will also be closed for 60 days, if necessary, should the proposal push through.

"The current initiative to save Boracay is a statement of the national government to Filipinos and the whole world that this administration is just as serious in its environmental reforms as with other priorities in peace and order," he said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) on February 26 also suspended accreditation for Boracay hotels and resorts for six months, to stop "continued harmful disposal of wastewater" into the seas surrounding three of Boracay's barangays: Balabag, Manoc-Manoc, and Yapac.

DOT-6 Regional Director Helen Catalbas said new applications and applications for renewal of DOT accreditation will be on hold until concerned establishments present their environment compliance certificates issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

"The only DOT-accredited Boracay establishments may join national and international travel fairs, missions or road shows sponsored by DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board," Catalbas said.

DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III added they will conduct a drainage audit in Boracay, once the state of calamity is declared in the three barangays to check improper connections and disposal of waste into the waters.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte gave the DILG and the DENR six months to clean up Boracay or he would shut down the island. This proposal has been met with criticism from business groups.

Under Republic Act No. 10121, or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, the President may place any local government unit under a state of calamity, with the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

READ: Gov't studying proposal to declare state of calamity, shut down Boracay for 60 days

Boracay, named as a top island tourist destination in the world, generates generates nearly ₱50 billion in annual receipts according to the DOT. More than two million tourists visited the island in 2017, according to the Malay Municipal Tourism office.