Trillanes seeks Senate probe into Boracay closure

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has filed a resolution calling for a Senate investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to close Boracay Island.

Trillanes filed Senate Resolution No. 705, directing the Senate committee on tourism to look into the administration's rehabilitation plans for the world-famous island and whether the 6-month closure is the best way to rehabilitate it.

“Doon natin sila kukuhanan ng master development plan, rehabilitation plan, relocation plan at livelihood plan para sa mga residente doon. Ganoon din itong information na ngayon ang nangyayari maraming residente doon ang pinalalayas without providing a suitable relocation for them. There is a law na kailangan bago mo paalisin ay bibigyan mo ng relocation site so walang nangyari na ganyan ngayon,” Trillanes said in an earlier press conference on Tuesday, April 10.

(There, we will ask them for a master development plan, rehabilitation plan, relocation plan and livelihood plan for the residents. We will also ask about the information that there are many residents who are being asked to leave without providing a suitable relocation for them. There is a law that before you ask them to leave, you need to have a relocation site. Nothing like that now.)

Trillanes maintained that the closure of Boracay for 6 months is meant to allow and expedite the construction of a casino on the island, which Duterte has denied.

Senator Nancy Binay, tourism committee chairperson, said she will invite government agencies to explain reports of a casino construction, as well as the reasons why the President decided to close the island.

"I haven't seen the resolution but should it be referred to my committee, perhaps we can start inviting the appropriate agencies to shed light on the reported casino construction, and walk us through what led to the decision to close Boracay," she said in a text message to reporters.

Duterte has denied knowing the planned casino construction in Boracay but Trillanes called this a “blatant lie,” as he showed photo of Duterte in a meeting in Malacañang with Chinese businessmen behind the project. (READ: FACT CHECK: Clueless about Boracay casino? Duterte discussed it with owners)

Trillanes urged Boracay residents to seek a temporary restraining order against the closure, as he denounced Duterte’s statement that he would make Boracay a land reform area.

I encourage them to file a petition for TRO sa Supreme Court nang mahinto itong kabalbalan na ito ni Duterte. So maliwanag ito na hindi ito para sa kalikasan. Para sa magsasaka daw, hindi 'yan totoo dahil wala namang mapagtataniman doon (to stop the foolishness of Duterte. So it is clear, it is not for the environment. He said it is for the farmers, it is not true because there are no farmlands there),” Trillanes said.

The senator said that the President's plan to subject land in Boracay to agrarian reform showed Duterte's "incompetence."

“'Yun ang pinaka, hindi uubra ang land reform na 'yan. Talagang nagpapakita dito na hindi lang siya padalos-dalos kundi incompetent pa dahil 'yung mga nakapunta ng Boracay ay wala namang farm lots doon at ang mga magsasaka ay wala naman doon," the senator said.

(That land reform cannot work. This really shows that he is not just reckless but also incompetent because those who have gone to Boracay have not seen any farm lots and the farmers are not there.) –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.