Boracay workers challenge island closure at Supreme Court

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2018 01:50 PM | Updated as of Apr 26 2018 09:57 PM

Boracay island, April 24, 2018, before the 6-month closure. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - Workers from Boracay island on Wednesday challenged the legality of President Rodrigo Duterte's order to close the top tourist spot, a day before its 6-month shutdown begins.

Represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Boracay workers filed a petition seeking to halt the government-mandated closure aimed at cleaning up the renowned beach destination.

Petitioners Mark Anthony Zabal, Thiting Jacosalem and Odon Badiola asked the court to allow the entry of tourists even during the island's rehabilitation, set to begin Thursday, April 26.

Lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen of the NUPL Panay chapter said the workers are worried that their families might go hungry once Boracay closes.

"Even if they are residents of Boracay, kapag walang turista na makakapasok (if no tourists could come in), it would be detrimental to their livelihood. Our position is that the right to earn a living in Boracay is a property right protected by due process,” Guillen said.

The petition named Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Department of the Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año as respondents.

Businesses in the area, which earlier lobbied for a phased rehabilitation, have warned that an abrupt shutdown could lead to bankruptcies and job losses for many of the island's 17,000 tourism workers and some 11,000 construction workers.

The island drew 2 million visitors last year, earning the country more than $1 billion in tourism revenues, according to official data.

The Duterte administration maintains it is legal to deploy police and bar tourists from the island.

-- with reports from Dexter Ganibe and Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News