No need for state of calamity, say Boracay business, local execs
ILOILO CITY – There is no need to place the island-resort of Boracay in Aklan under a state of calamity, according to business owners and local officials.
Mayor Ciceron Cawaling of Malay town, which has jurisdiction over the island, said a declaration of a state calamity should have valid grounds based on requirements of law.
Most if not all of Boracay’s three villages should be in a calamity situation before the island could be placed under a state of calamity, said the mayor.
He pointed out that the reported deterioration of water quality was concentrated along the Bulabog beach area, which is opposite the long beach, the main area for swimming and water sports activities.
State of calamity
According to the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act (Republic Act 10121), a state of calamity is “a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damage to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard.”
“But if the President issues the declaration, we will follow especially if it is meant to hasten the clean up of illegal structures on the island,” Cawaling told the INQUIRER.
Acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año earlier considered placing the island under a state of calamity and shut down establishments there in the wake of President Duterte’s order to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to clean up Boracay, descring it as a “cesspool.”
He explained that the declaration would fast track the government’s effort to rehabilitate the island.
Nenette Aguirre-Graf, president of the business group Boracay Foundation Inc. said business owners were getting confused with the direction of the crackdown on violators of environmental laws and regulations because of the pronouncements from various agencies of the government.
“Some officials say the island will be closed for 60 days while others say there will be no shutdown,” she said.
Graf said addressing the violations of environmental and building laws in Boracay may be done even without a calamity declaration since the business owners were cooperating with the national government agencies in correcting the violations.
“All of us want to fix Boracay and put everything in order,” she said.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay said “closing down Boracay is not the solution to the problems we have been dealing with for a while.”
Labor leaders based in Negros Occidental also asked President Duterte not to close down Boracay because it would displace about 19,000 registered workers and their families and 11,000 informal sector workers.
The appeal was embodied in a resolution penned by Wennie Sancho, General Alliance of Workers Associations secretary general; and Hernane Braza, president of the Philippine Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Workers Union-Trade Union of Congress of the Philippines.
Sancho said they were calling on other labor groups in Western Visayas to issue a similar manifesto.
“If the closure of Boracay is bad for business, it would be worse for the labor sector. We will hold collective actions against the closure of Boracay,” he added.
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