Gov’t allocates P2-B calamity fund for displaced Boracay workers

MANILAThe Duterte administration will allot approximately PHP2 billion worth of calamity fund for workers who will be displaced by the six-month closure of Boracay, MalacaAang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement a day after President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the recommendation during a Cabinet meeting to close the island to allow time to fix its sewerage problems.

He said Duterte is also expected to soon declare Boracay under a state of calamity.

Well there was a figure mentioned by the Secretary of Finance, and the amount mentioned was 2 billion, Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque, however, clarified that the calamity fund will only be allotted for displaced workers and not resort owners.

There will be a declaration of a state of calamity, but the President was insistent that the funds that will be spent will go only to the workers who will be displaced. He will not let any resort owner benefit from any sort of calamity fund, he added.

Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the the calamity fund be allotted for displaced workers of legitimate hoteliers and businesses in Boracay.

Roque said Boracay currently has 35, 000 workers from different establishments but, not all of them will be jobless.

Hindi naman lahat ng workers madi-displace. Bakit? Eh ang daming trabahong kailangang gawin doon sa Boracay, so hindi naman sila kinakailangan umalis lahat eh (Not all of them will be displaced. Why? There are lots of work that needed to be done in Boracay, so they don't all need to leave), Roque said.

So you can imagine, although there are 35,000 workers in Boracay, not all of them will be jobless. They will just have to change jobs for the time being, he added.

Interior Secretary Epimaco Densing, for his part, said that out of the 35,000 workers, 17,000 were directly hired and half of them could lose their jobs.

Densing, however, said that there are also regular employees who cannot just be dismissed from work.

Another 10,000 to 12,000 were indirectly hired, such as tricycle drivers and vendors, who could also lose their jobs, Densing said.

Roque said concerned agencies including the Department of Labor and Employment and the Departmemt of Social Welfare and Development will also assist the displaced workers.

Losses

Meanwhile, Densing said losses during the six-month closure are expected to amount to approximately between PHP18 billion and PHP20 billion in potential gross receipts.

Densing said since it was not to the best of interest of everyone to close the island for a full six months, he sought help from stakeholders to fast-track the rehabilitation process.

The only way to be able to do this is to ask everybody, all the stakeholders to be part of the whole rehabilitation process. We've been receiving volunteers outside of Boracay that they want to go into the island and help in the whole rehab process, he said.

He noted that if more people came into the picture, the government can cut the process by at least two months.

It can be recalled that in February, Duterte threatened to close Boracay lamenting that the top tourist destination has turned into a cesspool for its poor sewerage system.

Over the years, tourism and development have taken a toll on the world-famous island resort known for its fine white sand and turquoise waters.

Data from the Department of Tourism showed that over two million tourists visited Boracay last year.

Source: Philippine News Agency