Boracay stakeholders awaiting guidelines on closure

BORACAY stakeholders are awaiting the guidelines on the six-month closure of the resort island as they scramble for measures to mitigate its impact on the community.

Pia Miraflores, executive director of Boracay Foundation Inc., said they could not issue an official statement on the closure until they learn more about President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to shut down the island for six months starting April 26.

“We will wait for the press briefing (of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.) at 11 a.m. (Thursday, April 5). They are supposed to issue the guidelines on the closure during the press briefing. Until then, we cannot comment or issue a statement about it,” Miraflores said in a phone interview.

Elena Tosco Brugger, president of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Boracay chapter, said she has called for an urgent meeting with the board Thursday.

“We cannot comment. I need to meet with my team,” she said when asked whether they are going to comply with or appeal the President’s order.

Boracay stakeholders have stressed that they fully support government’s efforts to rehabilitate the island, but are pushing for the closure of the island in phases, or “one station at a time.”

In a previous statement, PCCI warned that closure of the island would affect over 17,000 directly employed workers and deprive the country of much-needed tourism receipts.

The chamber said the island earned around P56 billion in tourism receipts last year, about 20 percent of the tourism industry’s income. Two out of three jobs in Western Visayas region are on the island.

Boracay Foundation, in a statement issued on Tuesday, April 3, said the local government units, utilities and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have undertaken measures to address water pollution on and surrounding the island.

The foundation acknowledged that three issues need to be immediately addressed: water pollution at Bulabog Beach due to illegal connections of wastewater to the drainage and over capacity of the existing sewer treatment plant; poor infrastructure; and environmental degradation due to over development and illegal construction on forest lands and wetlands.

The foundation groups over 100 establishments, residents, expatriates and organizations on the island.

The President ordered the shutdown of Boracay for six ,months based on the recommendation of an inter-agency task force that was formed to look into ways to rehabilitate the island, one of the world's top island destinations.

The President had called the island a "cesspool" because of problems on sewage management and waste disposal, among others. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)
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