Senator Joel Villanueva suggested on Thursday a more practical solution in resolving Boracay’s woes instead of a complete shutdown that might affect the island’s tourism and economic activities.
For the senator, it would be better if the government would take a firmer and more aggressive stance against violators by penalizing them and let the compliant establishments remain open.
He added that the most immediate and proactive solution is the full and unqualified implementation of the provisions of our laws governing ecological concerns of Boracay, namely the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
“Implementation of these laws need not require a unilateral and immediate closure of the island. Violators should be penalized, fined and imprisoned, based on the provisions of the applicable laws,” Villanueva said.
“Areas of the island and compliant establishment that are still manageable should remain open. Affected employees and informal workers should be provided with contingency plans and livelihood assistance,” the senator added.
According to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Boracay establishments generated 17,737 jobs in 2017, the largest number of jobs generated in Western Visayas.
Furthermore, the world-famous tourist destination attracted an all-time high of over two million local and foreign tourists in 2017, an increase of 16% from 2016 based on the data of the Department of Tourism.
“We reiterate our position against a total closure of Boracay. An unqualified closure of the island, especially for an extended period of time, could result in irreversible economic losses for compliant establishments and for those who rely on Boracay for their livelihood,” Villanueva said.
Yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte backed the recommendation of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to close the Boracay for six months to allow the government to rehabilitate the island.
However, the said proposal was met with criticisms by residents, tourists, and business sectors alike who emphasized the negative impact of a prolonged closure of the island on the tourism and livelihood of the people.
“For all its problems, Boracay remains at the heart of our country’s tourism program. It continues to bring in billions of pesos worth of revenue, and attract millions of local and foreign tourists,” Villanueva said.
In 2017, the Boracay tourism industry generated around Php56 billion in revenues.
“Through the years, the Philippine government has spent billions of pesos in promoting the natural beauty of Boracay and its people. We cannot force a direct closure of the entire island without consideration of its impact on the people of Boracay and our national tourism program,” the senator added.