It takes political will and people’s cooperation to make things happen. That’s exactly what has led to the transformation of Boracay Island after its 6-month closure. Despite criticisms from his detractors, the “Punisher” President did what he had to do.

On 26 October this year, or exactly six months after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered its closure, Boracay Island was officially reopened. Although the rehabilitation was still 80% complete, the President was very pleased with the fresher look of the most popular tourist destination in the country. And not only the President was excited at its reopening. Local and foreign tourists were also eager to enjoy the fresh Boracay Island. Even Duterte’s detractors were among the first visitors.

As soon as Boracay reopened, tourists from all over start arriving. Many of whom made their reservations way ahead of the scheduled reopening, even when the rehabilitation was still ongoing. Although they have to adjust to the new rules and restrictions on the island, visitors were generally happy with the cleaner and more beautiful island paradise. According to the Environment Secretary, Roy Cimatu, the initial six-month rehabilitation period was only the first of a long-term plan. The task force mandated to repair the damage in Boracay Island explained that its work will not stop at pure rehabilitation only. Rather, the group aims to bring back the popular tourist destination to its former glory.

New rules

Two days prior to the reopening, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat announced the new guidelines that should be strictly followed in Boracay Island.

  1. No Compliance, No Opening policy. Hotels not connected to the island’s sewage system or do not have its own treatment facility will not be allowed to reopen.
  2. The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) is the sole regulator of Boracay’s water lines.
  3. Easement (25 + 5 meters)
  4. Promote Green Buildings
  5. No Booking, No Entry Policy. Tourists may be required to present hotel reservation slips before entering the island.
  6. Carrying Capacity is 19,215 persons per day.
  7. Daily tourist arrivals is limited to 6,405. The number of hotel rooms for tourists is reduced to 6,000 - 9,000 from 12,000 rooms.
  8. Follow Local Ordinances and Environmental Laws
  9. No Casinos in Boracay
  10. Smoking and Drinking ban. Smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages along White Beach is not allowed.
  11. “Laboracay” or the Annual Labor Day party is banned.
  12. Diving in waters surrounding Boracay is temporarily prohibited.
  13. All water activities is temporarily suspended.
  14. Dining by the beach is prohibited.
  15. Fireworks display is allowed only until 9 PM.
  16. No installation of electric lights on the beachfront.
  17. Sandcastle making will be regulated.
  18. Souvenir shops and hawkers along the beachfront are not allowed.
  19. Open fires and use of kerosene gas/fuel is banned. Fire dancing that uses kerosene lamps is prohibited.
  20. Piggeries and poultry farms are banned in the island.
  21. Hot-coal roasting of meats is prohibited.

Of the several inns, hotels, souvenir shops, and restaurants that used to do business on the island before the closure, only 157 are allowed to reopen yet. These are the establishments that have complied with the requirements demanded by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Among these requirements include the maintenance of a safe 30-meter distance from the beach waters and proper connection to the authorized sewerage system.

If we may recall, President Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay on 26 April due to a number of violations. He was irked to discover that many of the tourist facilities on the island did not comply with the proper sewerage system. Duterte got particularly infuriated on the improper disposal of untreated wastes directly into the sea. Thus, leading him to liken the tourist destination to a cesspool. Had it not been for the fearless and obstinate stance of President Duterte, Boracay Island wouldn’t have been rehabilitated and restored. Following this beautiful outcome, his detractors are silenced. They now even want other major tourist destinations protected or rehabilitated before the worst scenario comes.

Now that Boracay Island has reopened, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is considering to conduct rehabilitation on other tourist destinations in the country. President Rodrigo Duterte has already given DOT an order to look into major tourist spots that need rehabilitation.