A portion of Boracay island’s shoreline was closed yesterday following the appearance of a viral video early this week that showed a foreign child apparently pooping in its surrounding waters.
The closure of the shoreline was announced yesterday by Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, who said Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu instructed Boracay Inter-agency Task Force (BITF) General Manager Natividad Bernardino to isolate the area.
“Sec Cimatu instructed GM Natividad Bernardino to isolate the area where the incident happened with markers 100 meters wide on the shoreline. [Written on the markers are] ‘No swimming, this area is under clean up’ for a period of 48 to 72 hours,” Puyat told The Philippine Daily Inquirer in a text message.
Bernardino was also ordered by Cimatu to look for the tourists involved and file charges against them, reported ABS-CBN News.
The infamous video shows a child who appeared as if he were pooping in the water and his butt being cleaned up by an adult woman. Another woman who was located on the shore was burying something underneath the sand, which the poster said appeared to be a soiled diaper.
The original version of the video has since been taken down. The original poster assumed that the woman and child in the video were Chinese, although there is no evidence that that is the case. However, that racist framing has no doubt colored much of the reaction to the incident.
Meanwhile, Bernardino told ABS-CBN that they are digging through the sand to look for the diaper.
“We will restrict people from swimming in the area temporarily while we do the cleanup,” Bernardino said. “We’re trying to trace where that diaper is buried. We’re digging in that area.”
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo called the video offensive today during his press conference in Malacañang Palace.
“Whether it’s a Filipino or a tourist it’s offensive to the sight. It’s not a good scene,” he said. “But we might ask whoever is responsible for that place to have restrooms all over [the island]. Maybe they need portable restrooms there. We also need to help our tourists.”
Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a six-month rehabilitation of the island, which he once described as “a cesspool.” It was closed to tourists from April 26, 2018, to Oct. 26 of the same year. The decision proved to be controversial because it shuttered hundreds of businesses and left thousands of workers unemployed for months.
Despite the rehabilitation, just a few months ago the island was submerged in floods that were caused by faulty drainage systems.