(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Senator Franklin Drilon is calling for the establishment of a superbody that will not only protect Boracay's ecosystem but also ensure the island's sustainable development.
Drilon filed on March 20 Senate Bill 1756 seeking the creation of the Boracay Island Council to address the environmental problems besetting the world-famous beach destination.
Under the bill, the council will take over the management, development, regulation, protection and maintenance of the island, including its coastal and marine biodiversity.
The Boracay Island Council will be composed of representatives from different departments, local government units and the private sector.
On Friday, an interagency task force recommended that the island be close to all tourists for six months beginning April 26.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who has described Boracay as a 'cesspool, is open to closing the island for a year and had said he would support whatever the task force's recommendation would be.
Drilon noted that in 2017, over 2.1mn tourists visited Boracay.
'The influx of tourists in the area, however, came with a heavy cost to the environment and the island's biodiversity, the Senate minority leader said.
He noted that the island's sewage system is heavily clogged.
In December 2017, Boracay suffered from waist-high floods, affecting 90% of its 'poorly-built roads. 'The waters off Boracay are contaminated with fecal coliform. There is excessive algae growth caused by sewage being dumped directly in the waters of the island, he said.
Drilon also pointed to the lack of zoning and planning, as well as overcrowding.
'The island is also on the brink of exceeding its carrying capacity. Like many areas in the Philippines, the once virgin island has been trampled with and ruined by overdevelopment and lack of urban planning, Drilon said.
'It is apparent that the government has failed to provide the island with the protection and preservation that it needs. Real and lasting changes must therefore be made, he said.
'Restoring Boracay to its old glory may no longer be possible. All efforts must be exerted, however, to save it from total destruction, Drilon said.
'Creating the council would help ensure that the island will continue to exist with a functioning ecosystem, under a workable plan for sustainable development, he added.