DOLE to Boracay businesses: Don't lay off workers

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered business owners not to lay off any of their workers during the impending 6-month closure of Boracay starting April 26.

"Temporary suspension of business operations should not and must not result in the termination or separation of any employee," Bello said in a labor advisory to establishments issued late Friday, April 6.

Bello said business owners can only observe the "no work, no pay" scheme, or suggest that their employees go on forced leave by using their leave credits. (READ: Is the government prepared for Boracay's closure?)

Those who go on leave, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), should be called back when the temporary closure order is lifted in October.

The labor advisory is for "strict observance and compliance."

Despite questions on the "lack of a concrete plan," the closure order will proceed, as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, on April 26, just before Laboracay – the annual Labor Day event that draws thousands of tourists.

The recommendation to close the island to tourists for 6 months would mean suspension of business operations and billions of pesos in revenue losses.

While some 17,000 workers are expected to be affected, only 5,000 informal sector workers and members of indigenous communities can be hired by DOLE for cleanup jobs.

How Boracay's workers would make ends meet in the coming months remains unclear. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at