Scientists’ Group AGHAM calls for a participatory and comprehensive approach in the Bora rehab


May 2, 2018


AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People calls for a transparent, participative and scientific approach in the rehabilitation of Boracay Island. We ask the DENR task force to immediately inform the public of their comprehensive action plan for the rehabilitation of Boracay Island and allow the involvement of the scientific community in these plans.

The excessive amounts of nutrients present in Boracay waters, or eutrophication, brought about by improper waste disposal management is indeed alarming, and has been a long standing problem. However, the temporary closure and militarization of the island as well as the manual collection of algal blooms has caused much alarm to the community of concerned scientists, informed netizens and knowledgeable citizens.

The community of nationalist scientists agrees that these are certainly not part of the solution. The government’s treatment of the situation has made us skeptic as to the true intentions of the closure of Boracay Island, especially after plans for constructing a Chinese-owned and operated mega casino on the island was revealed.

The temporary closure of the island for for 6 months or so will bring about displacement of about 36,000 workers. People complete the environment; especially, those indigenous and native to the lands. Temporary closure of Boracay is first and foremost an assault to those indigenous and native to Boracay who make decent living of the island of Boracay and the Province of Aklan. Without a real and pragmatic program to address the lack of jobs in the region, the closure of the island is anti-people and must be opposed.

 Militarization has been long been demonstrated as anti-science; especially in situations where rights to land, exploration and study are constricted. Unusually high presence of military forces has been documented in Boracay Island in the last two weeks. Such show of force is more useful in Philippine waters where foreigners illegally claim our lands or build on our historic and legal shores.

 Instead of threatening locals and their supporters, we demand that the government defend our Filipino shores from foreign plunderers that come and go at will. While manual collection of algal blooms is only a temporary solution to the problem of over eutrophication, these blooms will grow back, especially in the Philippines where enough sunlight and nutrients are available. Algae seen in the island do not contribute to the formation of white sand as what has been popularly propagated. Recent algal blooms are enhanced by the increasing eutrophication in the island despite their known seasonality. What must be done first is to inspect and fix the sewage problem of the island which can be done through a systematic assessment of individually verified certification to existing environmental impact standards. Without this approach, misunderstanding of the issue and misinformation on the source and effects of algae will abound.

The presence of algal blooms in the island is caused primarily by improper waste disposal management. Nutrients, such as nitrates and phosphates, are released into the water, stimulating the growth of algae. Pollution from these in the island could also pose risks to public health since coliform levels were found to be in alarming levels.

 This is the ecological root of the Island’s ills but the bigger problem remains to be viable alternatives to wean away our overdependence on tourism.

 AGHAM demands accountability of the environmental polluters of the Island who have been causing massive destruction to the marine ecosystem for many years now. We also demand  to the science and evidence-based approach to solving the environmental issues of Boracay. Execute an approach that is scientific, pro-Filipino and pro-environment.###

Photo credits to Philippine Primer

For reference:

Krista Melgarejo

Deputy Secretary General, AGHAM-Diliman