DTI recommends closure of Boracay in phases, official says
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has asked President Rodrigo Duterte the closure of Boracay Island in Aklan from tourists be done in phases, a senior Malacanang official said on Monday.
In a press briefing, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said DTI made its own recommendation separate from the memorandum the interagency task force, composed of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Ano, and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, submitted to the Palace regarding its proposal to close Boracay for six months, starting April 26.
"(T)he Department of Trade and Industry has actually submitted the separate memorandum to us, saying that maybe this closure can be done in phases, alright, because of the effect on businesses and livelihood in the area," he said.
"So that is something that the Office of the President will most likely consider as well," he added.
He said the Palace is asking the task force for more detailed qualifications regarding its recommendation, which was just a "short letter, with the very short content."
"But we have requested?the Office of the President through the Executive Secretary’s office have requested the three agencies to submit a more detailed memo on the justification or there is any qualification at all to their recommendation and I think today we’ll be receiving those memorandum… memoranda rather?I mean, expanding, explaining and justifying their recommendation," Guevarra said.
He said aside from the environmental impact, the government also needs to look into the economic impact of the possible closure of Boracay.
"First of all, it’s the economic impact on the island and the people residing and working there, that has to be considered by the President as well; not only the environment but also people, their livelihood, businesses, all of these will have to be taken into account," he said.
But should there be Boracay closure, he said the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Labor and Employment will be ready to extend assistance to the residents who will be displaced in the meantime.
He said it is not sure if Duterte would adopt the recommendation of the task force.
As to the construction of a casino in the island, Guevarra said Duterte could be aware of this and fixing Boracay's problem would not take that long.
"I’m sure that he is aware that there is (a) casino supposed to be constructed in some island off the main area, all right. But you know, that’s construction. That will probably take about maybe two years, all right. We are just looking at several months to clean up the main island. So that is not really inconsistent, come to think of it," he said.
The closure of Boracay has been recommended after Duterte described the island as a "cesspool." Celerina Monte/DMS