MALAY, Aklan – Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima is urging her fellow senators for the Senate to look into the President Rodrigo Duterte’s ultimate decision to shut down the country’s crown jewel and famous tourist destination Boracay for 6 months.
In a press statement on Saturday, April 28, Senator De Lima claimed that she has filed Senate Resolution No. 715, appealing and encouraging her colleagues “to investigate should the total closure of Boracay is the best policy response to confront the problem besetting the famed island.”
President Duterte himself ordered the total closure of Boracay Island for 6 months starting on Thursday, April 26, to address and resolve environmental concerns in the Malay, Aklan’s famed island. Mr Duterte argued as early as February this year that the popular tourist spot had become a “cesspool.” (READ: PAL and Cebu Pacific cut down flights to Boracay)
Senator De Lima questioned Duterte’s order, claiming that the president’s administration “failed to present consistent and clear plan of action on how to go about the island’s rehabilitation.”
“The seemingly inadequate plan to provide economic support for the residents of Boracay show how little thought, regard, empathy and care were afforded to those who will be most affected,” the detained senator added.
On the very same day of Boracay’s closure, Duterte issued Proclamation 475 declaring a state of calamity in a total of three barangays in the island, to expedite the speedy release of allotted funds. But the president has yet to issue an Executive Order on the total closure of Boracay to both local and foreign tourists.
De Lima said the that the president’s administration should have “exercised due diligence and encouraged people’s participation through public consultations” ahead of proceeding with the shut down order. Leila also pressed for transparency and accountability measures.
“Having been given only a 3-week allowance to prepare for their imminent 6 months of joblessness, these affected Filipinos are being robbed of their ability to plan for themselves and have control of their lives,” De Lima said.
Senator De Lima then criticized Duterte and his administration, stating that “as supposed advocates of federalism, decentralization and devolution, this administration is ironically exhibiting clear signs of autocratic rule as it relies on the powers and prerogatives of the central government to impose sanctions…regardless of the actual needs of the people and the environment.”
Meanwhile, following the complete closure of the island to outsiders, the Department of Tourism (DOT) lend several volunteers and government employees from different agencies in the first round of the clean-up drive along the famed island’s Bulabog beach area (the other side of Boracay).
“The simple acts of throwing your trash properly and picking up rubbish you see goes a long way as we go all-out in rehabilitating Boracay,” DOT Secretary Wanda Teo, who also participated in the clean-up drive event, said.
More than 200 volunteers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and local barangay officials as well as non government organizations (NGOs) including National Association of Independent Travel Agencies – Boracay Chapter and Caticlan Airport helped DOT in cleaning a stretch of the island.