Boracay biz group alarmed by ‘close Boracay’ threat

(Photo by Tara Yap)

BORACAY ISLAND’S biggest business organization expressed alarmed over President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to “close Boracay” if its environmental problems are not solved.

In a statement released evening of Feb. 12, 2018, the Boracay Foundation, Incorporated (BFI) said that, “we believe this statement stems from miss information and unverified data presented to the President.”

Further, “while there are indeed many violators most of the island’s business establishments are strictly in compliance with prevailing ordinances and regulations.”

The group believed it is unjust to close the entire island at the expense of compliant establishments.

But BFI said it welcomes the six months ultimatum given by the President to the agencies and departments concerned to address the issues of Boracay.

The BFI claimed it has been focused on initiatives such as coastal resource management to preserve and estate the island.

But with the rapid growth of tourism, the island’s problems have been mounting up.

“It has long been the plea of the business sector through the BFI that Boracay be given the attention it so rightfully deserves, being the country’s premier tourist destination, generating P56 billion in tourism receipts, providing livelihood and jobs to Filipinos from all over the country,” the BFI statement added.

However, BFI said they have continuously expressed their frustration and dismay over the lack of attention given by the national government and other officers concerned to the island of Boracay.

With Malacañang now keen on fixing Boracay, BFI is hopeful that the island’s issues will be addressed as agencies and departments concerned will be pressured to urgently fix the island’s problems.

For the foundation, the solution is quite simple: strictly implement existing environment laws and local ordinances and close all erring establishments immediately.

“To close the island would be an easy way out and too much to bear for the residents who depends on the island’s tourism for their livelihood,” the BFI statement said.

With Boracay now in the limelight, the BFI vowed to commit to collaborate with agencies concerned to address the issues faced by implementing real solutions to the problem.

It also called on its members to strictly comply and follow the necessary policies to be implemented.

“Let us work on fixing Boracay while maintaining open lines of communication, transparency, and consultation with the local community on the ground,” it added.

But it pointed out that restoration of the island cannot happen overnight and on its own.

“We need everyone to set aside their personal interests and together make this happen for the future generations,” the statement concluded.

Nenette Graf, BFI president and also Sangguniang Bayan member of Malay, said they came up with a statement following an emergency meeting with its members Monday afternoon.

BFI was established in 1996 as a non-profit, non-stock association aimed at sustaining the island’s environmental, business, and social needs. It is currently composed of over a hundred fifty members representing Boracay Island’s leading establishments including resorts, hotels, restaurants, water sports, airlines, banks, island organizations, residents, and expatriates.

Meanwhile, other government agencies and officials have yet to issue a statement over Duterte’s pronouncement.

Several attempts were done to reach officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Region 6, and Department of Tourism 6 (DOT-6) but to no avail.

Calls made to Gov. Florencio Miraflores of Aklan and Mayor Ciceron Cawaling of Malay town were also unanswered.

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