THE DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday warned local governments with authority over Boracay to ensure the enforcement of the capacity limit set for the popular tourist destination.
In a statement on Thursday, DILG said local officials could be issued show cause orders due to negligence following documented violations of the island’s visitor threshold during the Holy Week break.
“We will not think twice to issue a show cause order to the officials of the local government units who disregard the policies of the island of Boracay,” Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año said in Filipino.
“We cannot go back to square one especially now that we are still in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.
Boracay Island is under the jurisdiction of the municipal government of Malay, which is within Aklan province.
Based on the Malay tourism office’s current guidelines, visitors to Boracay must pre-register online through the touristboracay.com site, which is controlled by the Aklan provincial government.
The pre-registration serves as a health declaration form for contact tracing as well as for Malay’s tourism statistical reporting.
A daily visitor limit of 19,215 has been set for the island.
The Malay tourism office reported 95,646 tourist arrivals from April 1 to 16, which means a daily average of almost 6,000.
However, tourist arrivals for April 14-15 — or Maundy Thursday and Good Friday which are declared national holidays — reached 21,252 and 22,519, respectively, according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in a letter to Mr. Año.
The DILG chief said failing to comply with the daily threshold not only poses public health risks but also cause environmental threats that compromise the government’s progress in rehabilitating the island.
Boracay was totally closed to tourists in 2018, following an order from President Rodrigo R. Duterte, for an overhaul of waste management systems and land use on the island. An inter-agency team was established for the rehabilitation program.
The provincial government of Aklan as well as its governor could not be immediately reached for comment.
“We must draw the line to ensure that our policies are being complied with on the ground,” Mr. Año said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez