The police have confirmed that they are sending hundreds of riot police to Boracay as the closure of the island looms.
As we previously reported, locals on the island have shared photographs of 300 sets of riot gear that were delivered to Boracay last week.
Now, the police have confirmed that 610 extra officers will be deployed to the tourist resort, including a 138-member “crowd dispersal unit”.
The six-month closure of the island for “environmental rehabilitation” was announced last month after President Duterte described the island as a “cesspool”.
Subsequent inspections revealed widespread violations of environmental and development rules, including sewage pipes unloading directly into the sea.
The island is now set to be totally off-limits from April 26 so facilities to treat raw sewage can be installed and illegal structures torn down.
However, controversy has raged over the short notice given for the closure, which critics say will leave thousands of tourism workers struggling and could lead to businesses going bankrupt.
There have also been suggestions that the closure may be a ruse to hasten the construction of a $500 million mega casino resort. The palace has dismissed this theory, saying no new casino will be built on the island.
Yesterday (Tuesday, April 17), regional police director, Chief Superintendent Cesar Binag confirmed the increase in police presence on the island.
“In any transition, especially for a drastic action such as this, there is always confusion, uncertainties, and low morale,” the said.
“What we did was to identify the sources of confusion, sources of uncertainty and sources of low morale that might result to agitation and eventually into a security issue.”
He added that there was also a danger of residents and workers being “agitated” by leftist groups.
Island residents will be obliged to carry new identification cards and will be banned from boating and night swimming, he added.
Entry to the 1,000-hectare island will be limited to a single small sea port and access to journalists will be constrained.