Press Release
April 28, 2018

De Lima joins clamor to probe Boracay closure

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called for a Senate probe on the government's order to close off Boracay island for six months to assess the adverse implications of its closure to the country's economy and the welfare of the people.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 715 urging her colleagues in the Senate to investigate if the total closure of Boracay is the best policy response to confront the problem besetting the famed island.

"It is imperative for the Senate to conduct an investigation into whether the closure of Boracay Island was the most sound, rational and appropriate course of action to address the pressing economic, zoning, and environmental issues in the island, and whether better options are available to confront them..." she said.

Due to the rapid and massive influx of tourists in Boracay, studies have shown that the coral reefs on the tourist destination have been damaged, its ecosystem has been threatened by unregulated commercial development, and water quality on the island has deteriorated due to the direct discharge of untreated waste water near the shoreline.

Last April 4, in line with the present administration's supposed move towards Boracay rehabilitation, Duterte hastily approved the total closure for six months of the famed island effective April 26 without proper consultation from the stakeholders.

In filing SR No. 715, De Lima lamented that despite the necessity to rehabilitate Boracay, Duterte's decision remains questionable because his administration failed to present consistent and clear plan of action on how to go about the island's rehabilitation.

"The seemingly inadequate plan to provide economic support for the residents of Boracay show how little thought, regard, empathy and care were afforded to those who will be most affected," she said.

Based on reports, the six-month closure will cost the economy ₱20 billion of foregone revenue, affecting the livelihood of 73,522 residents, 17,735 registered workers and 9,365 belonging to the informal economy.

Instead of a total closure, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reportedly recommended to address the issue in phases, with Senior Deputy Executive Secretary-turned-Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stating that, "[The DTI] has submitted a separate memorandum to us saying that maybe this closure can be done in phases because of the effect on businesses and livelihood in the area."

The Senator from Bicol maintained that the government should have exercised due diligence and encouraged people's participation through public consultations before ordering the total closure of Boracay.

"Having been given only a three-week allowance to prepare for their imminent six months of joblessness, these affected Filipinos are being robbed of their ability to plan for themselves and have control of their lives," she said.

"As supposed advocates of federalism, decentralization and devolution, this administration is ironically exhibiting clear signs of autocratic rule as it relies on the powers and prerogatives of the central government to impose sanctions... regardless of the actual needs of the people and the environment," she added.

Given the tremendous government resources that will be poured into the closure of the island, De Lima likewise reminded that transparency and accountability measures should be in place.

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