MANILA - The government has released P448 million in financial assistance for workers affected by the temporary closure of Boracay island, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Friday.
Diokno said the fund was given to the Department of Labor and Employment to help 17,735 registered formal sector workers in Malay town, Aklan.
"[These] funds will be used for the emergency employment, livelihood, and training programs for the six-month shutdown and rehabilitation of the resort island," the budget department said in a statement.
The funds were charged against the contingency fund in this year's national budget, Diokno said.
On Thursday, Boracay's six-month shutdown began as the government moved to clean up and rehabilitate the top tourist spot, crammed over the years by resorts and commercial establishments.
Prior to the temporary closure, Boracay workers filed a petition at the Supreme Court to ask that the half-year shutdown be stopped.
The government aims to improve Boracay's sewerage system and road networks, eliminate the accumulation of solid waste, remove structures violating shore easement rules, and recover the island’s wetlands during the 6-month shutdown.
Businesses on the island have been bracing for the closure, as they are set to lose billions in earnings and leave jobless the island’s estimated 30,000 workers from both the formal and informal sectors.
The island’s closure is also expected to hit the economy of Aklan province as large amounts of produce and meat products being brought to Boracay usually come from the mainland.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Boracay’s closure may result in the reduction of the country’s gross domestic product by P1.96 billion.