Palace asks for details of Boracay closure in phases
Malacañang has asked an interagency task force to flesh out its proposal to shut down Boracay for six months, as it considers a recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to implement the island’s closure in phases.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the fate of Boracay, which President Rodrigo Duterte had likened to a cesspool, was an administration priority and a decision would be out soon.
But the Palace is still waiting for a more detailed report from the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of the Interior and Local Government justifying their letter seeking the total closure of Boracay beginning April 26.
Guevarra said Malacañang was looking into how the closure would affect businesses and workers on the island, but the “overwhelming consideration” for the President was to restore Boracay to its pristine condition.
He said the DTI had submitted a separate memorandum to Malacañang to close down Boracay in phases because a total shutdown would be detrimental to businesses and livelihoods.
“So that is something that the Office of the President will most likely consider as well,” Guevarra said in a press briefing.
Time to prepare
The Palace will also give businesses enough time to prepare should a decision be made to shut down the island, he said.
As for the affected workers, the Palace will ask the labor department to find them employment elsewhere while the cleanup is going on. It will also tap the social welfare department for interim relief measures.
Guevarra said sacrifices would have to be made while the government was cleaning up Boracay. The President is ready to make a “firm” decision to save the island, he added.
“So it’s too bad that there are certain short-term effects, some sacrifice that has to be made. But we must not lose sight of the fact that this is for the long term,” he said.
Guevarra also defended plans to put up a casino in Boracay.
He said the construction of a casino, which could take years, was “not really inconsistent” with efforts to clean up Boracay, which would take months.
It’s up to the gaming agency to give permits to build casinos, he said.
“And what I can say is for as long as any establishment for that matter, including this casino, complies with all the regulatory requirements like environmental rules and regulations, there should be no problem with that,” he said.
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