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LOSS OF JOBS, INCOME

Closure order dismays islanders, businesses

MAIN STREET Vehicular traffic is expected to ease along the main street of Boracay as the holiday island is closed to tourists for six months, starting on April 26, for rehabilitation. —LYN RILLON

Boracay residents and business operators have expressed sadness and frustration over President Duterte’s order to close down the resort island for six months, starting April 26, after weeks of appeal against it.

“(The closure) is too long and they should have opted for alternatives instead that will not burden those who are compliant with the laws and regulations,” one business operator said.

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One resident claimed that the islanders were demoralized. “They do not know what to do because they have mouths to feed, children who are still in school and family members who require medical attention.”

Netizens’ rant

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Many ranted on social media.

“Dear President Duterte, is the Philippine government going to pay the rent for the locals, put food on their tables, give their kids lunch money, pay their electricity, settle their medical bills, pay the tuition for family members they are putting through college (and) protect their properties from looting,” one said.

Supporters of the President also lamented the closure order.

“It is quite ironic with your recent decision that can possibly damage or negatively change the lives of thousands of people in Boracay Island once it’s shut down,” according to a Facebook post by Ley De.

Fr. Edgardo Encarguez, convenor of a coalition against the closure, said Mr. Duterte’s decision “will lead to the loss of jobs of more or less 30,000 workers and the destruction of livelihood of thousands of families.”

Malay Mayor Ciceron Cawaling said the closure was declared even without any detailed plan on the shutdown and rehabilitation.

Aid for workers

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Jose Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, expressed hope that the financial aid meant for workers in Boracay would be “enough to ensure that their lives won’t be that difficult.”

While the local government, residents and business people in Boracay decried the shutdown, San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang said he supported the government initiative to transform the island into a sustainable tourist destination.

San Miguel operates Boracay Airport in Caticlan.

The Boracay Tourism Stakeholders asked Mr. Duterte to limit the closure only to properties and establishments that violated environmental and zoning regulations. —WITH REPORTS FROM ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL, DAXIM L. LUCAS AND JEROME ANING

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TAGS: Boracay, closure, environment, resort island
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