MANILA - Malacañang yesterday 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, it 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, Department of Interior and Local Government as well and Department of Tourism recommending that closure of Boracay starts 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.
Guevarra said 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.
He assured that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the DOLE 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.
Guevarra 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.
He saw no problem with the reported construction of two casinos in Boracay despite the proposed shutdown, as long as the companies complied with environmental rules and regulations.
He pointed out that local government units should step up in monitoring compliance.
Aside from Boracay, Guevarra said the government is also looking at other areas that are potentially at risk of being abused.
Malacañang 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.*PNA
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