At presstime, the environment department is completing its survey of tourist islands other than Boracay such as Siargao and Coron.
A good number of commercial establishments have been caught without required permits, discharging their raw sewage into the same shore where tourists bathe.
This reprehensible disregard for the environment is a direct threat to their own livelihood, as the pristine waters are precisely what tourists seek, the natural capital without which we will not have the 4 million or so tourists and almost 20,000 employees in Boracay.
Protecting the environment is exactly why ecological advocates pushed the Clean Water Act or Republic Act 9275 in 2004, creating a more comprehensive and integrated way of managing our water resources dry.
But today, instead of helping protect this vital resource, political gadflies are questioning governments resolve, calling it a "travesty" and invoking "double standard,” accusing it of "special treatment" for certain investments as against those already existing.
They succeed only in inflaming the issue with politics. What they are actually doing is making it easier for existing polluters.
The real "special treatment” has been enjoyed by those who have made their millions while not complying with the most basic of environmental regulations, which is a discharge permit in accordance with RA 9275.
The greatest "travesty" committed was when dozens of them were allowed to obtain tax declarations and fake titles over lands not even surveyed, driving out indigenous residents, in the name of business and tourism.
The truth is that Boracay has been grossly abused by greedy outsiders for too long, eventually engendering the cesspool of poor planning and filth.
And so, yes, short of being razed to the ground, Boracay must be rehabilitated, and only those found to be complying with environmental laws should be allowed to stay. The same high standards, probably for the first time, should apply to Coron, Siargao and El Nido.
The sensitive nature of tourism-oriented ecosystems requires that these islands be protected before they fill with filth, which drives tourists away.
We all deserve our natural wealth. And our duty is to protect it.
[Photo shows one of many establishments dotting the shoreline and environs of Boracay.]