MALACAÑANG has asked the inter-agency on Boracay to justify its proposal to shutdown the operations of business firms in the famous beach island for a period of six months starting April 26.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the task force, which is composed of Environment, Tourism, and Local Government departments, was urged to provide a "more detailed" memorandum after the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) raised worry over the looming closure of Boracay.
Guevarra said the proposed six-month closure of Boracay was incompatible with the DTI's suggestion to enforce the task force's recommendation "in phases" so as to avoid possible economic impact on the island.
"From the looks of it, based on that I think, two-paragpraph letter recommendation would appear to be a total ban, as recommended. That's why we're asking for some qualifications, if there are any," he said in a press conference.
"The Department of Trade and Industry has actually 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. So that is something that the Office of the President will most likely consider as well," he added.
Guevarra said the task force's modified memorandum was expected to be submitted to Duterte's office within the day.
He added that the Office of the Executive Secretary, which will also craft a recommendation based on the task force's proposal and the DTI's concern, would consider the views of other agencies, with regard to the proposed shutdown of Boracay Island.
The task force earlier proposed to begin the six-month closure of the island on April 26 to pave way for the rehabilitation efforts. The recommendation was made because of the environmental issues hounding the world-famous tourist destination.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, is yet to act on the recommendation.
On March 22, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte might impose the total closure of Boracay by lean season.
Guevarra said restoring the famous island is a "top priority this week," thus, Duterte might make public his decision "pretty soon."
He assured the public that the President's decision would be based on a reasonable judgment, since the latter's ultimate goal is to save Boracay.
"We know that he (Duterte) is a very reasonable man and for that reason, I guess he'd be able to consider other points of views as well," he said. "The overwhelming consideration for the President is really to restore Boracay to its pristine condition."
The Palace official said establishment owners in Boracay will be given enough time to prepare for the impending closure.
He also assured that the government would implement interim measures to help those who will be affected by the possible shutdown of Boracay.
He added that declaring a state of calamity in Boracay is still being considered to extend assistance to those who are suffering from the sorry state of the island.
"It's too bad that there's a certain short term effects, [a] sacrifice that has to be made. But we must not lose sight of the fact that this is for the long term," he said.
"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 added. (SunStar Philippines)