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Congress probe of Bora closure, rehab sought

A LAWMAKER on Wednesday sought a congressional probe of Boracay’s shutdown supposedly to make way for its rehabilitation and the reported construction of a $500-million casino-resort on the island.

In filing House Resolution 1806, Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate urged the House of Representatives’ committee on natural resources and ecology to take action “to prevent any more damage to Boracay and to the people relying on the commerce of the island.”

Zarate made his statement even as Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday sought a Senate probe into President Rodrigo Duterte’s Boracay master plan and his rehabilitation, relocation and livelihood plans for the island.

His proposed Senate Resolution 705 also asked the appropriate Senate committee to further assess the readiness of government agencies in assisting the residents, workers and business establishments that will be affected by island’s impending six-month closure.

“Barely two weeks before the impending shutdown, the government has yet to present a blueprint on how it will rehabilitate the island and mitigate the impact of the said closure to its inhabitants,” Trillanes said. 

“No clear plans and guidelines on how the government will handle the dislocation of workers and losses of business operators are in place.”

Zarate said the rehabilitation of Boracay’s waters and forests, waste management and the setting up of environmental safeguards to prevent the deterioration of the island was long overdue. But he said there was a serious concern that those issues―even if valid―might ruin the small businesses there and remove the jobs of tens of thousands of people to give way to the casino.

“It is very ironic that while the government recommends the island’s closure for months for its supposed rehabilitation, it allowed the entry and construction of a mega casino-resort in Boracay,” Zarate says in his resolution.

He says through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., the government granted a license to operate a $500-million, 23-hectare casino-resort in Boracay with construction to begin soon.

“Allowing the entry of this mega casino-resort is projected to add more burden to the island and its people and environment,” Zarate said.  

“The carrying capacity of Boracay was estimated to have already been exceeded in the year 2010 or 2011, according to the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” Zarate said. 

“In 2009, only an average of 9,362 visitors and tourists flocked to Boracay every day, which was still within the carrying capacity. Today it is hosting on the average 14,182 visitors daily.”

Topics: Boracay , rehabilitation , House Resolution 1806 , Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate , House of Representatives , Senator Antonio Trillanes IV , President Rodrigo Duterte
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