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That casino must go

/ 05:26 AM April 12, 2018

The approval of a casino on Boracay MUST be canceled. There is no place for gamblers in paradise. Boracay is for nature lovers, not gamblers. There are plenty of wonderful (if you are foolish enough to be an inveterate gambler) casinos in Manila. You can waste your money there.

Leave Boracay and other idyllic resorts to those who love the sun, sand, and sea. Boracay is for enjoying the beauty of nature, something humans were trying to destroy until the President came along and voiced what all decent people who have visited knew: Boracay had become a cesspool. Let’s not spoil it with a monstrosity. (And it will be a monstrosity, I can assure you. Fit for a city, perhaps, but for a beach paradise, never.) Architecture should blend in, not garishly stand out.

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Please support me. Mount a campaign to keep Boracay, and all other resorts, pristine. “NO CASINOS ON BORACAY.” Help me spread this on social media—through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Allow the government to rehabilitate Boracay, campaign against the construction of a casino and make the island more “Instagrammable,” as millennials call it. I will establish a website you can log on to and vote to support; in the meantime, please check www.wallacebusinessforum.com for our online poll.

What I’m worried about next is the “plan.” The President wants Boracay closed for six months starting April 26. Fine, although it’s a bit long for the good guys. But if all it’s going to result in is the destruction of a few buildings and the haphazard building of some septic tanks, then nothing will be achieved.

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Are the wastewater companies ready to accept many new connections to their wastewater treatment facilities? Are the facilities sufficient? Or will they have to expand? Or, will one start from scratch, and build? Can that be done in six months? I doubt it.

Will they be recompensed for doing so?

Has a master plan of design been made and approved? Buildings to not only be more than 30 meters from the waterline, but, as in Bali, no taller than the coconut trees (three stories) and blending with nature, not fighting it in vulgarity? And soundly constructed? Has the Department of Public Works and Highways finalized the plan and put teams in place to improve the road system? Have the demolition teams been hired to get rid of the illegal structures?

Six months will speed by, and if the planning and follow-through implementation are not done, we’ll be no better-off than at the beginning. The President needs to form an emergency task force — today — of pertinent government agencies and private-sector experts (Jun Palafox can lead that group) that will include environmentalists to quickly (two weeks!) develop a plan. And be given the authority to rush it into action.

When all that is finished, a subsequent plan should be developed to cover all resorts. And Congress should prioritize giving it the force of law, with severe penalties for violation. Let’s stop the rot before it gets worse.

I rather like the idea of Ramon Ang to build a bridge connecting the island of Boracay to Caticlan in the Aklan mainland.

According to Ang, the bridge should lessen the number of people staying permanently on the island.

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As I mentioned last week, there should be limits on the number of tourists. Boracay, and elsewhere, can only sustain a limited number of people—residents and tourists. Determine what that number is, and proceed from there.

We voted President Duterte into power because we wanted tough change. Enough of collusive violation of societal norms. Well, here’s a tough change started; it’s now up to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu (and he should be the one, he’s spoken sensibly on the issue already, and environmental protection must be the primary factor in deciding what is to be done) to lead the task force in installing permanent change on how we develop the beauty of the Philippines. Not rush to wantonly destroy it, as in the past.

A final point: The local officials responsible for the ruin of Boracay must be haled to court, and removed from office (if career officials) or never voted again (if elected).

I’m sure there are no casinos in heaven. There should be none in the paradise that Boracay can be.

Read my previous columns: www.wallacebusinessforum.com. E-mail: wallace_ likeitis@wbf.ph

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TAGS: Boracay casino project, Boracay cleanup, Boracay closure, Like It Is, Peter Wallace, Rodrigo Duterte
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