Uncertainty clouds looming Boracay closure, rehab: stakeholders

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2018 09:09 PM | Updated as of Apr 03 2018 09:15 PM

Algae accumulate on the shores of Boracay island during low tide in this photo taken on March 22, 2018. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Uncertainty still clouds plans to close and rehabilitate Boracay island, with the government yet to release clear guidelines regarding the matter.

Peter Tay, a member of the board of directors of Boracay Foundation, and Jose Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, said this Tuesday as they lamented worries from Boracay tourists and locals alike.

"Everybody is asking 'are they going to cancel the trip to Boracay?' and things like that so this is one of the concerns of the stakeholders," Tay told ANC's "Beyond Politics."

"We cannot tell them (tourists) anything. Up until now we are still talking about when it will happen, if it happens. How long will it take?" Clemente added.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had earlier said 3 government agencies have recommended the closure of Boracay island to tourists starting April 26 to give way to rehabilitation efforts.

The National Economic Development Authority, meanwhile, has recommended that the closure happen during lean months to minimize the negative effect on tourism and workers.

Clemente explained that stakeholders are still "in a haze" on how the government plans to rehabilitate Boracay island and sought clarification from the government.

"It seems that at the moment, it's only they (government) who know what they plan," he said.

"I'm more concerned about the locals because these people depend on tourism... What about them?" Tay added.

Tay also called on the government to give locals and businesses the chance to rehabilitate the top tourist spot.

"Give us the opportunity and the chance to fix Boracay and I believe the LGU (local government unit) and provincial government is working hand-in-hand together to fix Boracay right now," he said.

He added that the so-called "cesspool" which President Rodrigo Duterte had criticized is already being addressed as proof of their commitment to rehabilitate the island.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra had earlier said that the interior, environment, and tourism departments have already submitted their detailed proposal for the 6-month closure of the island paradise beginning April 26, which may be tackled during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, April 4.

"We are cooperating with the government and we just need guidelines. What do you want us to do? And we will be able to comply," Tay said.

Government initiated an unprecedented cleanup on the island and crackdown on establishments violating environment and zoning guidelines as the renowned destination grappled with sewage and waste woes.