BORACAY, Aklan – While agreeing to the need to rehabilitate Boracay, some senators are opposed to the proposal of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to shut down the world-renowned resort for six months because this will displace thousands of workers on the island.
Senator Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said the move would also punish those establishment owners and residents who have been complying with the law.
If there are closures that should be implemented, it should be done directly on those who have not been complying with government laws because they are causing the degradation of Boracay.
“I am okay to close down those establishments that are not complying with the law but closing the entire island will also punish those who are complying,” Villar said.
The DILG is proposing that a state of calamity be declared in Boracay for six months, including a two-month commercial shutdown, to speed up rehabilitation and clean-up efforts in the Island.
Sen. Joel Villanueva is also not in favor of the proposal as it will affect the livelihood of more than 17,000 workers and those who belong in the informal sector.
At the Senate hearing on Friday, Villanueva said that while he acknowledged the serious environmental problem faced by the island, he insisted that shutting it down was not a solution.
He said what was needed was strict enforcement of existing environmental and building laws and serious crackdown on violators.
Sen. Sonny Angara, in a separate statement, called on government to ensure that employment assistance would be provided to workers who would be affected should the planned closure of Boracay businesses push through.
“While we fully support the immediate rehabilitation of Boracay, we can’t turn a blind eye to the possible displacement of thousands of workers. Libu-libong pamilya ang maaapektuhan nito,” Angara said.
Labor groups in Western Visayas have expressed apprehension that almost 19,000 formal and informal workers could lose their jobs with the proposed business closure.
The lawmaker called on stakeholders to take advantage of the Green Jobs Law that provided incentives with the creation of jobs that would contribute substantially to the preservation and restoration of the environment and natural resources.
Green jobs, under Republic Act (RA) 10771, refer to employment that helps “protect ecosystems and biodiversity, and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.”
“Tourism industry is a major economic driver and job generator for the country. Boracay, which was named world’s best island, attracts two million tourists and brings in more than P50 billion revenues every year.
Tourism revenues in Boracay reached P56 billion in 2017. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA