Press Release
April 21, 2018

De Lima warns vs govt's flawed policy towards Boracay rehabilitation

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has reminded the public to remain vigilant against the Duterte administration's move towards Boracay rehabilitation which could negatively impact on the lives of the poor residents and workers in the island.

While Boracay needs urgent attention, De Lima said the Filipinos should still demand "transparent, participative and rational decision-making" to ensure that the needs and interests of the people are considered.

"The erratic decisions regarding how to go about its rehabilitation - which are less like 'plans' and are more like 'whims of the old tyrant' at this point - show how little thought, regard, empathy and care [Duterte] has for those who will be affected," she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 285.

"If there is one thing that families and businesses alike value, it is predictability in their income stream. That is what people are being robbed of - the ability to plan for themselves and have control of their daily lives - when the Administration makes whimsical and ever-changing plans on the closure of the entire island of Boracay," she added.

Upon the recommendation of the interior, environment, and tourism departments to close the island for six months to give way to the rehabilitation of Boracay, Duterte approved the total closure for six months of the famed island effective April 26.

With the closure of Boracay, De Lima said the people lose the ability to ensure that their needs, the needs of those who depend on them, their obligations and their plans for future growth are adequately provided for.

"Worse, this loss of predictability affects the ultra-rich differently than it does the poor and the less well-off. While the ultra-rich might only need to forego profits for a relatively brief period of time, the poor and the more modest businesses might not even survive the ever-changing capricho of the Tyrant-in-Chief," she said.

The Senator from Bicol also cast serious doubts on the real motive behind the government's announcement of putting the island under land reform.

"Ano na naman kaya ang niluluto ng mga taong nasa likod ng mga pabago-bago at pabigla-biglang pananalitang ito? Bakit land reform? Iyon ba ang tunay na pinakakapaki-pakinabang na paggagamitan ng lupain sa isla ng Boracay?" she asked.

"O baka naman pambobola at pananakot lamang ito? Baka naman pinaaasa na naman ang mga tao sa mga salita at pangakong palagian namang napapako, habang tinatakot, pinipiga at iniipit ang mga negosyante sa Boracay? Lagi na lamang ginagamit ang taong bayan at, sa dulo, ay bibiguin at pahihirapan," she added.

De Lima said the Duterte administration's arbitrariness and unpredictability could be masking something more sinister.

"As people become used to ever-changing 'plans', they might not notice that the plans are changing in order to favor or carve out exceptions that would benefit special interests: or those who can afford the ears of the influential and powerful," she noted.

"Thus, it may be that, while the livelihood and survival of poor families and modest businesses are hanging in the balance, corrupt elements and influence-peddlers might be exploiting the situation in order to gain leverage to pad their own interests," she added.

Last month, the former justice secretary aired her concern over the government's plan to convert Boracay island into a gambling haven following the administration's approval of the development of casinos in the area.

Based on reports, Macau-based casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and its local partner, AB Leisure Exponent Inc., are expected to build a $500-million integrated casino resort in Boracay next year.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chairperson Andrea Domingo has also reportedly approved the application of gaming operations of Resorts World Manila at the Savoy Hotel at the Megaworld Corp's Boracay Newcoast development.

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