MANILAUnless a temporary restraining order (TRO) is issued by the Supreme Court (SC), Malacanang on Wednesday said the plan to temporarily close Boracay Island to tourists beginning Thursday shall proceed.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this comment following media reports that a group of Boracay workers and residents has filed a petition asking the high court to issue a TRO against Boracay's closure.
Unless a TRO is issued, the planned closure of Boracay to tourists shall proceed, Roque said in a press statement.
Roque defended President Rodrigo Duterte's order to close Boracay for six months to pave the way for the rehabilitation works on the country's popular tourist island.
While the President respects the court, we see absolutely no merit for any private party to restraint the closure of Boracay to tourist given that SC itself has previously ruled that Boracay is owned primarily by the state, Roque said.
We see no reason how private persons can allege and prove irreparable injuries, a prerequisite for TRO, given that their stay in the island is by mere tolerance of the State. In any case, the closure is because of the inherent police power of the state to protect the environment in Boracay, he added.
Duterte had recently warned the courts not to interfere in the planned Boracay closure by issuing TRO because you would just exacerbate the situation.
The President had compared the famous holiday destination to a cesspool due to environmental degradation worsened by the dumped sewage into the ocean.
In a television interview on Wednesday, Roque said the government has allotted no less than PHP2 billion not only for the rehabilitation works but for ordinary workers to be affected by the closure.
But the appeal of the President, the assistance should be given only to the ordinary workers and not to the rich individuals, Roque said in a television interview.
He said the fund will be used for repair of sewage line, drainage system and central water treatment.
What have been agreed upon is zero discharge, no water should be released into the sea, it will be recycled, Roque said.
Roque assured that master plan has already been prepared for the six-month rehabilitation that also includes the removal of structures on the wetlands and forestlands.
Source: Philippine News Agency