Boracay group hits ‘apathetic treatment’

BORACAY’S FUTURE is not as bleak as what others imagined it to be – at least for some locals who enjoy the comforting serenity and solitude offered by the sun and the sea while the island is closed to tourists. (Ricky D. Alejo)

THE Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) hit concerned government agencies for their “apparent apathetic treatment” of Boracay stakeholders.

The BFI, which is comprised of business groups, slammed the lack of “efficient communication process” amid the six-month tourism closure of the island in Malay, Aklan.

In an official statement, the foundation claimed that since the start of the closure on April 26, 2018, they have repeatedly called upon the agencies to have a regular weekly or bi-monthly updates on their targets and objectives for the rehabilitation.

These updates, according to BFI, are important to set the expectations and for them to relay the information to returning guests, partners, and employees who await the status of their jobs.

But BFI said the agencies failed to consult those who have local knowledge and experience such as the residents and local businesses who are most affected.

“We are dismayed and disappointed at the continued apparent apathetic treatment of stakeholders,” the foundation said.

BFI added that the agencies have been issuing statements in the media “without releasing official communication to the island stakeholders.”

One was the pronouncement of Department of Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. that Boracay would be “off-limits to parties” when it reopens on October 26. Another is the “no walk in guests” policy.

The foundation also lamented on the multiple requirements that the establishments have to comply before they can be allowed again to operate.

With the culmination of the operation of the One-Stop Shop on Sept 15, other businesses have to travel all the way to Iloilo City for at least seven hours by land from Boracay in order to process their requirements.

“Isn’t it the role of the government to make its services closer to the people?” BFI said.

BFI further slammed the “very complicated processes” that businesses have to go through before it is deemed compliant.

In its Boracay Bulletin dated Aug 31, the DOT released a list of 25 hotels and resorts that could already operate when the island reopens.

These initial establishments have complied with the permits and clearances of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The foundation congratulated the agencies. But it questioned their basis for businesses to be considered “compliant.”

They claimed some of those on the list have admitted that they have yet to complete their sewerage treatment plant (STP) while others are merely connected to the sewer lines even if they have more than 50 days left to comply.

Presidential Directive 2018-0082 orders establishments with 50 rooms and above at the beachfront to put up their own STPs for them to be declared compliant. Those with 49 rooms and below can have clustered STPs.

“As the island’s leading business organizations, we pray and hope that clarity be upon us very soon. Six months of sacrifices – loss of income, loss of livelihood, displaced families, broken careers, and properties surrendered will all be put to waste if no efficient system, processes and comprehensive well-thought of guidelines for re-opening will be set up,” BFI said.


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