Palace wants ‘more detailed’ recommendation on Boracay closure

MANILA MalacaAang on Monday said it had already received the recommendation on the six-month Boracay closure from the inter-agency group tasked to come up with the blueprint, however, noted that it was too short.

We received the recommendation, a short letter with the very short content from the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) as well and DOT (Department of Tourism) recommending that closure of Boracay start on April 26 and of course six months thereafter, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a Palace briefing.

Guevarra, however, said that the Office of the President, through the Executive Secretary's office, has requested the three agencies to submit a more detailed memo on the justification.

He stressed that he wanted the concerned agencies expanding, explaining and justifying their recommendation since all they submitted was a two-paragraph letter.

I think, (the) two paragraph letter of recommendation, it would appear to be a total ban as recommended that's why we are asking for, you know, some qualifications if there are any, Guevarra said.

To date, Guevarra said the Department of Trade and Industry was the sole agency that submitted a separate memorandum suggesting that the closure should be done in phases, to cushion the negative effect of the closure on businesses and livelihood in the area.

Economic impact

Guevarra said that the Office of the President will consider the economic impact of the closure as well.

First of all, it's the economic impact on the island and the people residing and working there, that has to be considered by the President as well; not only the environment but also people, their livelihood, businesses, all of these will have to be taken into account, Guevarra said.

Guevarra assured that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Labor and Employment will implement interim relief measures to help people whose livelihoods will be affected by the closure.

He said that aside from the economic impact, the office is also looking at the possibility of declaring a state of calamity on the island.

That is also being considered. Because when there is a state of calamity, somesay affected people may avail themselves of calamity loans and so forth and so on to tide themselves over, Guevarra said.

Guevarra, meanwhile, reiterated that despite the negative impacts expected to come with the recommended closure, it was a sacrifice that had to be made.

It's just too bad that some maybe foreign workers will be affected but we have to think much longer than six months. We have to think of the years to come, of the next generation to enjoy the island, Guevarra said.

Environmental compliance

Guevarra, meanwhile, saw no problem with the reported construction of two casinos in Boracay island despite the proposed Boracay shutdown, as long as the companies complied with environmental rules and regulations.

What I can say is for as long as any establishment for that matter, including this casino complies with all the regulatory requirements like environmental rules and regulations, there should be no problem with that, Guevarra said.

Guevarra pointed out that local government units should step up in monitoring compliance.

More than the regulatory agencies themselves, who may or may not have representatives in various areas of the country, I think it's the local government unit who should be in the forefront of monitoring compliance, he added.

Aside from Boracay, Guevarra said that the government is also looking at other areas that are potentially at risk of being abused.

MalacaAang earlier said that the recommendation to temporarily close Boracay is not related to the reported construction of two new casinos on the island but to fix its environmental problems.

Source: Philippine News Agency