MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Friday, April 27, said they have released P448 million to the labor department to fund assistance for over 17,000 formal sector workers affected by the closure of Boracay Island.
The money will be used for “emergency employment, livelihood, and training programs for the 6-month shutdown and rehabilitation of the resort island.” There are 17,735 registered formal sector workers in Malay, Aklan who will be adversely affected by the closure.
President Rodrigo Duterte on April 26 signed a proclamation declaring a state of calamity in 3 barangays in the island. Diokno earlier said government was planning to disburse about P2 billion from the country’s calamity fund.
The calamity fund for 2018 stands at P19.6 billion. Under its special provisions, P10 billion had been set aside for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City, leaving P9.6 billion for other purposes, including Boracay.
Diokno said the funds for Boracay were charged against the fiscal year 2018 contingent fund in the national budget.
“The General Appropriations Act of 2018 appropriated the amount of P13 billion as Contingent Fund, which may be used to cover the funding requirements of new or urgent projects and activities of the National Government Agencies and GOCCs, subject to approval of the President,” Diokno said in a press statement.
According to non-profit, non-stock association Boracay Foundation Incorporated, those who would be directly affected by the closure include “employees of hotel, resorts, restaurants, dive shops, souvenir shops, tour activity centers, and transport providers.”
An additional 19,000 workers from the informal sector – beach masseuses, tattoo artists, vendors – would also be affected.
According to the budget department, the Boracay Emergency Employment Program (BEEP) which was recently launched by the labor department will make sure that safety nets are in place, including the micro, small, and medium enterprises in Boracay.
The BEEP working group will pursue financial support under the labor department’s Adjustment Measures Program. Under this program, “worker-beneficiaries shall get 50 percent of the prevailing minimum wage rate in the region for six months, which shall be linked to employment facilitation, training and livelihood programs.”
Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the economy is estimated to lose P980 million per quarter or a total of P1.96 billion from the closure of the island. – Rappler.com