Groups hold caravan to protest Boracay shutdown
BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN—Groups and individuals opposing the closure of Boracay Island and the building of casinos on the island on Thursday staged a caravan to protest the shutdown, which they said would severely hit the livelihood and income of residents and workers.
About 50 vehicles including 20 motorcycles joined the 71-kilometer caravan that took off about 8 a.m. from the capital town of Kalibo and reached Barangay Caticlan in Malay town about 12:15 p.m.
The caravan led by the #NoToBoracayClosure! #DefendLivelihood! #No to Casino! coalition also passed the towns of Numancia, Makato, Tangalan, Ibajay and Nabas.
Organizers targeted the caravan to reach Caticlan, the jump off point to Boracay, earlier but the vehicles were stopped in five checkpoints with heavily armed policemen.
The policemen allowed the caravan to proceed after taking the plate number of the vehicles.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, who joined the caravan, said the protest was part of activities to decry the closure of the island “without considering the impact on the livelihood and welfare” of Boracay residents and those relying on the island’s tourism industry.
Zarate, a human rights lawyer, also questioned the legality of closing an entire island and limiting the movement of residents and journalists.
“We have not seen a document that places Boracay under a state of calamity or even Martial Law because that seems to be what they want after April 26. There is something wrong there. The last time we checked, our Constitutional rights cannot be suspended by a mere say so by Malacanang,” he told the INQUIRER shortly after the caravan reached the Caticlan jetty port.
The closure for six months of the island would not only hit hard residents and business operators of Boracay but the whole Aklan province and other areas as well, he stressed.
“We are not saying that we are against rehabilitation because that has long been the call of environmental groups. (But) their action is very arbitrary,” he said.
Zarate, who filed a House resolution calling for an investigation of the closure of the island, said there should have been “a scientific facts-based study how to go about the rehabilitation of Boracay.”
Zarate was expected to consult with residents and workers that would be affected by the closure.
The business groups Boracay Foundation Inc. and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay have distanced themselves from any protest action and declared that they have no participation in the protests./lb
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