Malacañang to decide on Boracay's fate soon

SEA AND SAND. What awaits Boracay after Malacau00f1ang's order? File photo by Louie Lapat/Rappler

SEA AND SAND.

What awaits Boracay after Malacau00f1ang's order? File photo by Louie Lapat/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – After receiving recommendations from 4 government agencies on what to do with Boracay, Malacañang is set to release its order on the island destination soon.

"Pretty soon. We are working on it. That's our top priority," said Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday, April 2.

The Office of the President (OP) will be issuing its own recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte, based on the suggestions of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Duterte will then decide whether or not to take the recommendation of the OP.

Guevarra, who pens many crucial Malacañang documents, said the OP is looking at two options: a "total ban" on entry into Boracay or a closure in phases.

The total ban was recommended by 3 agencies – the DILG, DENR, and DOT. The DTI, meanwhile, wants the closure to happen in phases.

The 3 agencies suggested that the total closure of Boracay start on April 26 and last for 6 months. But their recommendation came in a letter "with a very short content."

The OP has asked the agencies to submit "a more detailed memorandum on the justification" for their recommendation.

Guevarra said they are expecting to receive the memorandum on Monday. (READ: DENR's Roy Cimatu: 'We can save Boracay')

Asked what "total closure" would mean for individuals, Guevarra said persons may be physically barred from entering Boracay. However, residents would be exempt from this.

"Maybe starting at the ports, there will already be an obstacle, there will already be a problem with entering, except for residents," he said.

Guevarra expressed confidence that the government would be able to implement a system to allow authorities to determine a Boracay resident from a non-resident. (READ: Aklan governor seeks to convince Duterte 'no need' for Boracay closure)

Closure in phases

On the other hand, the DTI, in a separate letter, suggested closure in phases "because of the effect on business and livelihood in the area," said Guevarra.

"That's something the OP will consider as well," he said.

The senior Malacañang official also gave assurances that whatever recommendation they would make to Duterte will include interim measures to help residents whose livelihood would be affected by the island's closure.

Most likely, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) would be called in to help while the cleanup of Boracay is going on. 

Duterte announced he wants to close down Boracay because of environmental problems caused by business establishments that don't ensure proper disposal of sewage and garbage. (READ: Duterte warns he'll file complaint vs Boracay local gov't officials)

Some critics of the move say it will kill tourism and business there. Others have pointed out double standards in the policy direction. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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