Makabayan bloc seeks probe on displaced Boracay workers

MANILAThe Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is calling for a congressional inquiry on the impact of the temporary closure of Boracay island that displaced 36,000 workers.

The seven-member bloc filed on Tuesday House Resolution 1846, which directs the House committees on labor and natural resources to conduct a joint inquiry and on-site public hearing on the impact of the island's six-month shutdown on the stakeholder sectors, especially the 36,000 affected workers.

Members of the Makabayan bloc are Gabriela Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus, ACT Teacher Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.

The group filed the resolution amid reports that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation approved the license of Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group, Ltd. and Philippines' Leisure and Resorts World, Corporation for a USD500-million casino on the island.

In the resolution, the lawmakers said the reported construction of a casino resort in the island could displace local small-and-medium business establishments, aside from the already displaced workers.

The group cited reports that workers who usually earn PHP2,000 daily during the summer peak season are "despairing to accept work" with pay of PHP323 daily for 30 days, as well as a near-stampede involving displaced workers who waited for transportation assistance from a government agency.

They said the environmental problems hounding Boracay are results of decades of "flawed approach to developing our natural gifts."

"Now that Boracay has become, to use the words of the President, a cesspool, it should be called by its real name: failure of revenue-driven and unsustainable tourism development framework," they said.

The lawmakers said the government should be reconsidering its National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier denied that he has a hidden agenda for ordering the temporary closure of Boracay last April 26 to give way to its rehabilitation.

Wala akong agenda. Matanda na ako. Hindi na ako makatakbo. Last term ko na 'to (I don't have an agenda. I'm old. I can't run for the next elections. This is my last term), Duterte said.

The President also appealed to critics of the closure to allow the government to do its job to fully clean up Boracay and vowed to allow Congress to decide to declare it as a forestal, agriculture or even commercial area.

Ganito lang. Linisin ko 'yan, pagkatapos ibalik ko. Ibalik ko sa gobyerno, hindi sa amin. Then I'll let Congress decide kung anong gusto ninyo (This is what we are going to do. We'll clean it up, then we'll return it. It's not ours. Then I'll let Congress decide what it wants to do with it), Duterte said.

MalacaAang has denied any link between the temporary closure of Boracay for rehabilitation and the building of a huge casino-resort on the island. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency