Labor groups in Negros Occidental will write to President Rodrigo Duterte and ask him to hold in abeyance his decision to close down Boracay Island if perennial problems are unsolved in six months as the Department of Labor and Employment-Western Visayas reported yesterday that the move will leave more than 17,000 people jobless.
Wennie Sancho and Hernane Braza, who sit as the labor group representatives in the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board of Western Visayas, said they will pass the resolution this week and send it to the President.
The pronouncement was made during the wage consultation yesterday in Bacolod, together with their manifesto for increased wages in the region.
Sancho, who is also the secretary-general of the General Alliance of Workers Association-Negros, said yesterday that it will be a big blow to the economy, and the livelihood of the people of the island will be completely shut down.
Braza is the national president of the Philippine Agricultural, Commercial, and Industrial Workers Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (PACIWU-TUCP), who recently filed a petition for an increase in wages in the region.
“This move is very crucial, that is why we will appeal to President Duterte to hold this decision as it involves about 17,000 workers who will be jobless,” he said in an interview.
The RTWPB, which is composed of the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, National Economic Development Authority, and representatives from labor and management group, had also pledged their support to the appeal, except for DTI, that had no representatives from the agency.
DOLE regional director Johnson Cañete said during the consultation that records from the Public Employment Service Office show that if the island will be closed, 17,735 registered workers will be affected.
The number does not include indirect workers like the transport, restaurant, and lodging sector, and other informal sectors, Cañete said.
“These are things that need to be pondered on and what should be done should be concretized,” he said.
He also suggested that the creation of the resolution be fast-tracked so that it could be tackled at the Regional Development Council meeting on March 23.
DOT 6 regional director Helen Catalbas also said that Boracay is one of the drivers for high tourist arrivals in the region.
Records from DOT 6 last year showed that the province of Aklan, where the island is located, has tourist arrivals of about 2.1 million, or 40 percent of the total tourists who visited the region.
Catalbas also said that she is already talking with provincial heads to give job opportunities for affected individuals if the crackdown is pushed.
Cañete said this could be one of the options but there are factors that could be considered, he added.
He also said that a developmental approach should be used to determine those who are not compliant with the environmental and business standards, to ensure that not the whole island will be closed for operation.*MLG
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