After a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) official admitted that plans for the rehabilitation of Boracay have not been finalized, Bayan Muna has slammed government for disregarding the impact of the island’s closure on the livelihood of residents.
“The government has arbitrarily declared Boracay closed supposedly for rehabilitation, but apparently, to this day, the government has no clear detailed action plan yet to address the myriad issues confronting the island and its people,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said in a statement on Friday.
“This is outrageous given the severe impact of the closure, especially to the ordinary poor people who depend on their survival on the island’s tourism industry,” he added.
Zarate made his comments after an on-site investigation of the Boracay closure, where DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo’s said that the inter-agency Task Force Boracay has yet to finalize the action plan.
“Closure without a plan is like putting the carriage ahead of the horse,” he said.
Zarate also decried the different and conflicting statements which he said has left a lot of questions.
“The lack of direction for the rehabilitation is raising the tension and doubt among communities here in Boracay. What is really the government’s plan for Boracay: keep it as a top tourism site or make it a casino haven or as a land reform area, as announced by President Duterte?” Zarate asked.
“There is a disconnect in these conflicting pronouncements. The people are still looking for answers,” he added.
While the lawmaker agreed with the current administration’s decision to rehabilitate Boracay, he said that the community of Boracay should not be considered as an ‘enemy’.
“It is undeniable that Boracay needs to be rehabilitated. For many years, even decades, the urbanization of the island into a so-called world-renowned tourist destination has posed environmental concerns at it has exceeded the threshold capacity throughout the years,” Zarate said.
“However, the people and the Boracay community are not the enemy. Indeed, they are part and parcel to the solution in keeping Boracay the prime tourist hub that it is,” he added.
He also asked government to prioritize the welfare of the displaced workers who have kept Boracay alive through the years.
“We care for the environment, the trees, the fishes, the turtles and other life forms, but we must first and foremost take care as well of the people, the poor masses especially,” he said
“They should not be swept out in the rehabilitation and improvement of Boracay. The people are an integral part of the island.” /muf
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