Trillanes seeks probe to uncover plan behind Boracay closure
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed a resolution on Wednesday to investigate the plan of Malacañang on the plight of the island resort Boracay following the closure order on April 26.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 705, Trillanes said “the government has yet to present a blueprint on how it will rehabilitate the island and mitigate the impact of the said closure to its inhabitants.”
He added that “no clear plans and guidelines on how the government will handle the dislocation of workers and losses of business operators are in place.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, when asked if the government has a master plan for Boracay’s six-month closure, has admitted that he has no plan.
“But master plan wala akong master plan diyan, linisin ko muna iyan kasi agricultural iyan. So maybe after that, I’ll give the farmers – i-land reform ko na iyan mas mabuti pa,” he said during a media briefing last Monday.
Trillanes noted that closing the famous island to tourists would translate in P20-billion of lost revenues and would affect the livelihood of 73,522 residents, including 17,328 registered workers and 9,365 unregistered ones.
Boracay, a 1,032-hectare paradise island attracted two million visitors last year and generated P56 billion in revenue.
“Allowing only a three-week notice, many establishments and workers alike are scrambling and are clueless on how to go about months of joblessness,” he added.
Aside from the master plan, Trillanes also seeks to investigate whether the shutdown is “being made to favor certain groups or individuals.”
Earlier, the government -owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has approved a $500-million integrated casino resort of Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group and its local partner, AB Leisure Exponent Inc., a unit of the publicly listed Leisure and Resorts World Corp.
President Duterte, however, made it clear that there would be no casino to be established in Boracay.
For Trillanes, this showed that “Mr. Duterte is clearly lying again in denying that he has knowledge on the construction of this casino in Boracay.”
“His communications office released photos in December 2017, showing Macau gambling executives making courtesy call to Duterte to discuss the plans for casino construction. Even Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo admitted that this was the agenda during the courtesy call,” he added.
The opposition senator lamented how it had been “heartless” for the government to shut down Boracay without appropriate plans to help the affected residents.
“There is no debate that the Boracay island needs to be rehabilitated, but it is heartless for the Duterte administration to order the immediate closure of the island without the appropriate plans to help the affected people, especially if this mega-casino’s construction in the island will push through,” he said.
Last Monday, President Duterte also declared that the resort island remains to be an agrarian reform area, saying under the law, the country’s premier tourist destination is an agricultural and forest area. /jpv