Philippines' Boracay Island closes for six-month clean-up
April 26 2018 09:26 AM
Policemen patrol the beach in Boracay on Thursday.


The Philippines' top holiday island closed to tourists on Thursday as workers began a six-month clean-up to address environmental damage caused by overdevelopment. 
President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to sign an order formalising the closure of Boracay Island, 310 kilometres south of Manila, until October, his spokesman Harry Roque said.
A petition was filed at the Supreme Court on Tuesday demanding the island, known for its powdery white-sand beaches and crystal blue waters, stay open. There was, however, no information on when the court's decision would be made.
Workers were seen on Thursday pounding concrete walls and other edifices with hammers to clear structures to allow the widening of the island's main street.
Hotels, restaurants and establishments have also sent teams to demolish construction which has encroached on the main beach.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has urged establishments to fix their sewage system after a number of the businesses were found to have illegally connected to the island's rainwater drainage line that connects directly to the sea.
"This has become a systematic problem," he said, as he warned commercial establishments would be closed down if they do not fix their violations. "You are capitalising on the beauty of the beach, but you are polluting it."
"Whoever will be hit, we will hold them responsible and make them pay," he added.
The closure will affect more than 17,000 workers in hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related establishments, as well as an estimated 11,000 people earning a living by selling various items and services to visitors.

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