After one month of closure, optimism over speedy Boracay rehab

Army trainees have been drafted in to help locate and remove illegal pipes discharging into the sea off Boracay. Their success so far has led the environment secretary to suggest the closure period could be shortened.

One month on from the closure of Boracay Island, the environment secretary has said it could reopen in less than the planned six months.

In previous statements, Roy Cimatu had suggested that the environmental rehabilitation could take longer than the original target. However, his words today (Saturday, May 26) were more optimistic.

Referring to establishments in breach of environmental regulations, Mr Cimatu said, “We are almost sure that there’s nothing else. I was very happy yesterday that the military was able to find the culprit. Good news, we might be done earlier,” he said.

His words come after a 100 trainee soldiers were drafted in to help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources () uncover 16 illegal wastewater pipes running into White Sand Beach.

Previously, a survey by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau using ground penetrating radar located 43 sites where illegal pipes had been buried.

Mr Cimatu said this work had greatly speeded up the job. “If we were not able to do this, it would have been a problem. Good thing that it was solved.

“We are still validating but the big hotels are defiant. The DENR Central Office’s Pollution Adjudication Board will handle this,” he said.

He added that the erring establishments would have to face the consequences, including fines of up to 200,000 pesos per day.

President Duterte ordered the closure of the popular resort island from April 26 because of environmental problems. He had previously branded the popular destination a “cesspool”. 

Establishments and households not connected to sewerage treatment plants caused an increase of water pollution to extreme levels, particularly during the busy summer months.