SMC President Ramon Ang: Boracay rehab 'a step in the right direction'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) — San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and COO Ramon S. Ang expressed on Thursday his support for the government's temporary closure of the island destination Boaracay.

SMC operates the Boracay Airport in Caticlan, and is planning to upgrade it to a world-class airport.

"The island needs to be rehabilitated and we have to support the government," said Ang. "Yes, we will endure some short-term pain but it’s a step in the right direction and in the end we are hopeful it would bring about long-term gain for all."

President Rodrigo Duterte gave the go signal for a six-month closure in Boracay beginning on April 26. The scramble to clean up the island came after Duterte called it "a cesspool" and threatened to shut it down permanently if pollution was not resolved.

Related: Boracay closure to start on April 26 - Roque

Interior Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco Densing III earlier pegged losses in revenue between ₱18 to ₱20 billion.

The shutdown was met with controversy as locals worried about their source of income and critics raised concern at the government's green light of a casino on the island.

Ang also suggested building a bridge between Boracay, located in the municipality of Malay, and the neighboring Caticlan. He said the infrastructure would reduce the need for tourists and tourism workers to stay in the island, thus reducing waste and helping other areas develop.

“Tourists and visitors will have the option to go to Boracay during the day and in the afternoon or at night for accommodations outside the island,” Ang said.

“The development of neighboring areas would boost Aklan’s economy as a whole, while keeping island of Boracay sustainable for generations to come,” he added.

Ang also believes the construction of a bridge could resolve the garbage and sewage problem by building pipes into the bridge design.

Tourism Undersecretary Ricky Alegre said only 47 percent of 1,900 business establishments are connected to the sewage treatment plan. An area of the island has open pipes that pour out waste to the open sea.