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The Philippines close Boracay to tourists under high security



Boracay (Philippines) (AFP) – The Philippines sealed off its Boracay tourist island on Thursday for a six-month cleanup that the government has implemented with a muscular show of its security forces.

Coast Guard boats were on patrol and assault rifle-wielding police were at the entrances on the once-pristine island, which have been tainted by heavy commercialization and overdevelopment.

Regional police chief Cesar Binag told AFP the shutdown began after midnight, with tourists being deterred from taking the ferry, which is the main route to the island.

"Boracay is officially closed to tourists, we do not close houses, but tourists can not enter, we implement the president's orders," Binag said. 19659005] About 600 police officers were on duty, and some carried out life-sized exercises, including gunman gunmen who were protesting against bottle-throwing and taking hostage babies for sunbathers – all in frightened locals. [19659006] "It looks like we're at war," said Jessica Gabay, a food vendor, AFP, late Wednesday night. "Maybe the authorities are doing this to spread fear so people follow the rules."

The government admitted on Thursday that there was no real threat and Epimaco Densing, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Ministry, told AFP that the security presence was "only part of the preparation for the worst."

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered shut down this month after calling the resort a "cesspool," polluted by tourism companies dumping undiluted wastewater directly into the ocean.

During the closure, only residents with identity cards are allowed to board ferries to the tiny island, home to some 40,000 people.

On Thursday morning, police began patrolling the beach to impose a rule for swimming except in a designated area with buoys

– Uncontrolled Growth –

Boats are not allowed to sail three kilometers from the coast, and only Boracay residents are allowed to fish in their waters.

The Philippines are committed to closing the island's infrastructure, demolishing illegal structures and eliminating the clutter left by years of unrestrained growth.

The resistance was low in the run-up to the closure, there were no fierce protests and most of the criticism focused on the fate of about 30,000 people employed in the island's bustling tourist trade.

The workers were attracted by the relatively good wages on the island, which has counted about four to two million visitors since 2006.

These tourists, of whom there are a growing number of Chinese and Koreans, pumped around $ 1 billion into the Philippine economy last year.

But its growth from a sleepy backpacker hideaway to a mass tourism center with fast food outlets on the beach has taken a toll

Uncontrolled construction has engulfed the island's natural beauty, while slimy algae-filled waves in some Areas and mountains of discarded beverage bottles are problems that even critics recognize

"I'm all for rehabilitation and preservation, but clearly that's not the way to go," said AFP political analyst Ashley Acedillo of the Philippines.

He described the closure as "poorly thought out, unplanned and knee-jerk measures" that did not take into account the economic impact on the island's workers and business community.


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