Senator Antonio Trillanes IV questioned on Thursday the “real motive” behind the closure of Boracay island for six months as some of his colleagues expressed concerns on the “haste” of the closure order, which takes effect this April 26.
“I will question the real motive kung bakit ipinasara ang Boracay. Hindi ako naniniwala na environmentalist ito si Mr. Duterte,” said Trillanes, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
(I will question the real motive behind the closure of Boracay. I don’t believe that Mr. Duterte is an environmentalist.)
The senator said the planned rehabilitation of Boracay could be done without closing down its operations, noting that many of the establishments on the island were not violators of environmental regulations.
“Ang suspetsa ko rito kaya nila painapasara yung Boracay para maipasok yung mga kargamento – ‘yung mga semento o anuman para maitayo ‘yung casino na ‘yun. ‘Yan ang suspetsa ko but we will validate that kasi it doesn’t make sense at all to close it…” he said.
(I suspect that the reason they shut down Boracay is to allow cargo in – cement, or whatever, to build that casino. That’s my suspicion but we will validate that because it doesn’t make sense at all to close it.)
Trillanes noted that there was too much “coincidence” when the owner of the said casino made a courtesy call to Duterte in December last year, granted the franchise a few weeks after, and then this recent order to immediately shut down the island.
The senator though did not provide other details about the owner and the casino.
For his part, Senator Joel Villanueva expressed concerns on the “haste” to close the island, saying the government should put in place first a concrete plan for the workers who would be affected by the shutdown.
“It is unfortunate that the rehabilitation plan and livelihood interventions for the workers has not been clearly set in motion first before the closure of Boracay,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development, said in a statement.
“Mahirap at kumplikado dahil nasa drafting stage pa ang (It’s hard and complicated because it’s still in the drafting stage, the) guidelines on Boracay shutdown. At any rate, we hope that all stakeholders are being consulted, there are clear accountabilities and timelines for the deliverables,” he said.
Regardless of the length of shutdown, Villanueva said there will be a “disruption on livelihood.”
Instead of shutting down the entire island, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, believes that a partial closure of Boracay would have been the “best strategy” so that establishments, compliant with environmental laws, could still operate.
“In my opinion, what they described, what the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) described, the activities can be conducted by partial closure or a closure of different segments of Boracay,” Gatchalian said in an interview at the Senate.
“For example, kung demolition ang gagawin, i-demolish muna ang mga areas na obviously ay lumalabag sa regulasyon ng pamahalaan,” he pointed out.
(If they opt for a demolition, demolish first the areas that are obviously violating the government’s regulations.) /je