Hundreds of riot police are set to be deployed to keep tourists away from one of the most-visited islands in the Philippines after it was ordered to close for six months due to pollution.
President Rodrigo Duterte branded the tiny holiday island of Boracay a ‘cesspool’ after fears it is becoming tainted by dumped sewage.
He then demanded it be closed to visitors for six months from April 26 so facilities to treat raw sewage can be set up and illegal structures can be torn down.
The white sand and crystal clear waters of Boracay Island in the Philippines, which is being shutdown to tourists for six months
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the shutdown of Boracay Island from April 26 after fears it is becoming tainted by dumped sewage
Today, authorities in the Philippines laid out a lockdown plan to keep out all foreign and Filipino tourists using more than 600 police, including a 138-strong ‘crowd dispersal unit’.
Speaking at a public forum that was aired on national television, regional police director, Chief Superintendent Cesar Binag, said: ‘In any transition, especially for a drastic action such as this, there is always confusion, uncertainties, and low morale.
‘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.’
Boracay residents will be obliged to carry new identification cards and banned from boating and night swimming, he added.
A pipe is seen along the shore of Bulabog beach on Boracay island pumping sewage on to the sand
A menu on a board is pictured outside a restaurant near uncollected sacks containing waste from clogged sewage pipes on Boracay
Filipino workers ride in a truck with waste materials collected from clogged sewage drainage pipes. The Duterte government maintains it is legal to deploy police and bar tourists from the island
Entry to the 2,470-acre island, located 186 miles south of Manila, will be limited to a single small sea port.
However, businesses in the area have lobbied for a phased rehabilitation.
They have warned that an abrupt shutdown could lead to bankruptcies and job losses for many of the island’s 17,000 hotel, restaurant and other tourism workers, plus some 11,000 construction workers.
The island drew two million visitors last year, earning the country more than a billion dollars in tourism revenue, according to official data.
Scavengers sift through the piles of rubbish that have been dumped on a hillside on Boracay island
A lone tractor tries to clear up the piles of rubbish and sewage that have been dumped on the holiday island
The abrupt decision to close Boracay has forced hundreds of hotels, restaurants, tour operators and other businesses to cancel bookings, leaving clients fuming.
The threat of closure first emerged in February when Duterte accused Boracay’s businesses of dumping sewage directly into the island’s turquoise waters.
In a speech he said: ‘I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool.’
The Duterte government maintains it is legal to deploy police and bar tourists from the island.