Local biz group denies involvement in planned Boracay protests

Foreign and domestic tourists will no longer be allowed entry to Boracay starting April 26 and six months thereafter to pave way for the island’s rehabilitation. AKLAN FORUM JOURNAL/PN

BORACAY – The Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI) denied that it is involved in the planned protests of some civic organizations against the imminent closure of this famed island resort.

The local group of Boracay business owners and stakeholders said it “has no affiliation, sponsorship, nor any partnerships with any of the organizers” and “does not support any form of protest against the upcoming island closure.”

The BFI also said it wants “to participate and cooperate in order to fast-track the rehabilitation efforts of the government.”

On April 9, the #NoToBoracayClosure! #DefendLivelihood! #NoToCasino! Coalition formed in Kalibo, Aklan.

The coalition was created to condemn the “arbitrary and heavy-handed” decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to shut the island down for six months starting April 26.

“As of now, no formal order on [the] closure has been issued and no comprehensive plan has been presented [to stakeholders]. What we have now is the President’s imperious verbal closure order,” the coalition’s manifesto of unity stated.

Among the organizers of the movement were political groups Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Rise Up Aklan, and Makabayan.

The coalition wants Duterte to “rescind his blanket Boracay closure order” and “come up with a scientific and comprehensive rehabilitation plan that will not create massive economic dislocation.”

It also appealed to the international community to intervene in the looming island closure, which it said would result to the displacement of over 36,000 registered and informal workers in Boracay.

For its part, the BFI said, “We all want the same thing. We all agree that rehabilitating Boracay is a must…In the absence of clear guidelines, there are more questions than answers making it difficult for everyone.”

It added that “transparency and clear lines of communication” are important to make “people understand” and “preserve the island.”

Meanwhile, Environment secretary Roy Cimatu said the inter-agency group tasked to restore Boracay is finalizing the rehabilitation to be implemented during the closure.

“After many years of unbridled expansion and the influx of mass tourism, we need to restudy the master plan not only for Boracay but also for the province of Aklan,” Cimatu said.

He also urged the stakeholders “to work together to make Boracay a livable community, a safer and cleaner tourist destination.”

The inter-agency group is composed of the Environment, Tourism, and Interior and Local Government departments. (With Boy Ryan Zabal of Aklan Forum Journal/PN)

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