Duterte signs proclamation placing 3 barangays in Boracay under state of calamity

Pia Ranada

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Duterte signs proclamation placing 3 barangays in Boracay under state of calamity
(3RD UPDATE) Malacañang has yet to issue an Executive Order on the closure of Boracay, even after the island has been shut down to tourists

MANILA, Philippines (3RD UPDATE) – On the day of Boracay’s closure, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the proclamation declaring a state of calamity in 3 barangays in the island.

Barangays Balabag, Manoc-Manoc, and Yapac were placed under a state of calamity on Thursday, April 26.

Interior Assistant Seccetary Epimaco Densing III said in a news briefing in Boracay that the Boracay inter-agency body had yet to receive an official copy of the proclamation itself at the time of the briwfing that afternoon, but the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recommended that the state of calamity be effective “for not more than a year.”

Malacañang later released Proclamation 475.

Malacañang has not yet issued an Executive Order on the closure of Boracay itself.

“There will be additional Executive Orders and Administative Orders to follow,” Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año said in a news briefing on Thursday, the day of the start of the closure of Boracay to tourists, as well as regulated access for island residents and media.

Densing said there is a draft EO is on the creation of Task Force Boracay, which was discussed during the Cabinet Cluster meeting on Friday, April 20.

Limit establishments, tourists

Densing said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is conducting a study on the carrying capacity of the island, which would be the basis for further government actions in terms of regulating the number of tourists and structures in the island.

The study will be completed by the first week of May, at the lastest, he added.

“We will limit the number of establishments once the carrying capacity is determined. We will  limit the number of visitors and tourists who can go to the island. Otherwise, uulit na naman ang problema (the problem will recur),” Año said.

Malacañang had earlier downplayed the seemingly last-minute issuance of the written orders, saying the public didn’t need the documents to know about and prepare for the closure.

Duterte had ordered the closure of the popular tourist destination during a Cabinet meeting on April 4, around two months after he had first declared his intent to do so during a speech in Davao City. (READ: INSIDE STORY: How Duterte decided on Boracay closure)

The country stands to lose P1.96 billion due to the decision, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. The President earlier admitted he has no master plan for Boracay.  

Residents have also complained of the lack of clear guidelines and adequate compensation for workers whose livelihood may be affected by the closure. Commercial establishments in Boracay will also take a hit due to the prohibition against tourists, a significant contributor to the island’s economy.

Malacañang, however, insists the closure is the only way to once and for all solve Boracay’s environmental issues. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.