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Asia Minute: Philippines Beach Closure Experiment Underway


It’s been two weeks since the Philippines government closed one of its most popular tourist destinations. The reason was to clean up pollution — and despite the lack of visitors, the island is very busy. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The island of Boracay often pops up on lists of popular Southeast Asian beaches for tourists.

But not these days.

There are no sunbathers on the beach, but there are military troops and police. The island has been closed to visitors for two weeks now — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called it a “cesspool” in need of substantial cleanup. The government plans to keep it closed for six months while infrastructure from sewage treatment to roads is overhauled.

This week, the Budget Secretary of the Philippines said the process might even take a bit longer than six months — especially to assure that there’s enough government funding to complete the work.

Another government agency had a different take this week.

The Environment Secretary of the Philippines says he hopes to use Boracay as a showcase for rehabilitation. Right now, he admits the case tells a negative story, as he put it: “how neglect and blatant disregard of environmental laws lead to destruction.”

Credit Alexey Komarov / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Boracay Island

He says he expects that to change by November, and tell a positive story to an international audience when the Philippines hosts the conference of the East Asian Seas.

That session is a follow up to last year’s United Nations Ocean Conference held in New York.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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