THE inter-agency task force on Boracay has recommended a six-month closure of the world-famous tourist destination, according to the letter it sent to President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“In view of the recent developments and concerns surrounding the island of Boracay, [the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Tourism (DOT)]have decided to unanimously recommend the closure of the Island from entry of local and foreign tourists,” according to the March 22 letter, which Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Local Government Undersecretary Eduardo M. Ano and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo had signed.
They said the closure would start on April 26.
In a speech on Tuesday night, Duterte said that he would back a one-year closure of Boracay.
“[DILG undersecretary Eduardo Ano] thinks [the rehabilitation]will take a little bit longer. I told him, ‘General, you are there, I placed you there, whatever is your decision I will support you. It is up to you, you just make the recommendation’,” Duterte said during the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines at the Manila Hotel.
“If I find everything that is all right and in consonance with [the government’s plan to rehabilitate the island, then]let us go with it. [Ano] said it will take about something like six months. I told him, ‘then do it.’ They ruined Boracay, not us,” Duterte said.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque, Jr. said on Thursday that there would be no closure of the island resort during the Holy week.
Duterte created the task force to rehabilitate the island after calling it a “cesspool” in a speech on February 9.
In the same speech, the President threatened to close the island.
Duterte also threatened to charge Boracay local government officials for serious neglect of duty for letting the situation in the island get out of hand.
On March 6, Duterte said that he would be putting the world-famous tourist destination under a state of calamity to address its environmental problems and threatened to arrest anyone who would not cooperate.
Boracay stakeholders warned that about P56 billion in revenue would be lost while more than 17,000 people would lose their jobs if the island would be shut down for a year.
Boracay generates two out of three jobs in the Western Visayas region, according to the Tourism department.
Boracay has been in the top 25 of the TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards for the past two years.
The island was adjudged the top beach in the world in 2016, according to the Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA