Malacañang downplays absence of written Boracay closure order

MANILA, Philippines – Two days before the closure of Boracay on Thursday, April 26, Malacañang has yet to release any formal written order to serve as its basis.

But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed this during his press conference on Tuesday, April 24.

"Wala pa (None yet) but, come on, it's just a matter of the President signing it," he said.

Two orders are expected to come from Malacañang – an executive order on the closure itself and a proclamation of a state of calamity covering Boracay.

Roque said Filipinos anyway already know about the plan due to President Rodrigo Duterte's verbal statements and press conferences about the closure. (READ: INSIDE STORY: How Duterte decided on Boracay closure)

"The people have been told, they know that there will be a closure, there will be a declaration of [a] state of natural calamity. It's just a matter of the President signing the document and it can be signed any time now," said the spokesman.

Roque, however, has so far not been able to give reporters any more details about the expected presidential issuances.

On Monday, April 23, he merely said the documents were "forthcoming."

Needed for release of funds

The state of calamity proclamation is critical as this would facilitate the speedy release of funds for the rehabilitation expected to take place during the 6 months the island is closed to tourists.

According to the Official Gazette, such a proclamation would authorize the "programming or reprogramming of funds for the repair and safety upgrading of public infrastructure and facilities."

It also allows for automatic appropriation for "unforeseen expenditures" and for local governments to enact a supplemental budget.

This local budget would pay for "supplies and materials or payment of services to prevent danger to or loss of life or property."

But Roque again downplayed this concern, saying the needed funds are "already there."

"Walang problema po doon (There's no problem there) because the funds are there so you just need the proclamation para magamit na (so it can be used). So as soon as it's signed, you can use the funds," he said.

The Boracay closure would have great impact on the lives of the island's residents as well as on tourists.

Because of the presidential order, entry and exit points in the island are restricted, with residents required to show identification when entering their home island. (READ: LIST: New Boracay rules during 6-month closure– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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