Malacañang on Monday, April 2, said the public could soon expect the President’s “firm decision” on recommendations to close down Boracay to make way for the island’s rehabilitation.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a Palace press briefing said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is ready to make a firm decision to save Boracay, which is currently hounded by environmental issues.
“We are working on it. That’s our top priority,” Guevarra said.
“The overwhelming consideration for the President really is to restore Boracay to its pristine condition,” he added, stressing that any short-term effect of the island’s closure would not outweigh the long-term benefits of the planned clean-up.
Guevarra explained that the administration could close down the island on the basis of the government’s exercise of police power.
“Of course, our environmental laws also play a role… So ‘yun ang actual legal basis. Kung talagang merong violation of some environmental rules and regulations, that’s it,” he said.
The Office of the President earlier received an official communication from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Tourism (DOT), recommending a six-month shutdown of Boracay starting on April 26.
Guevarra said the Office of the Executive Secretary requested the three agencies to submit a more detailed memorandum to elaborate the qualifications of their proposal.
Meanwhile, apart from the proposed total closure of the island, Guevarra said the Palace is also considering a recommendation from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the shutdown to be done in phases.
He noted that a key factor in determining the decision would be the economic impact on the residents and workers in the island. Guevarra said the administration may tap other concerned agencies to implement interim relief measures that would provide assistance to displaced employees.
“Not only the environment, but also people, their livelihood, businesses, all of these will have to be taken into account,” he stressed, adding that the government may also consider declaring a state of calamity in Boracay to allow affected residents to avail of calamity loans.
As for the reported construction of new casinos in the island, the Palace official pointed out that the said projects would not be a problem, for as long as they comply with the government’s regulatory requirements and other environmental rules and regulations.
“More than the regulatory agencies themselves, who may or may not have representatives in various areas of the country, I think it’s the local government unit who should be in the forefront of monitoring compliance,” Guevarra stressed.
DOST scholars hit all-time high this year
During the same press briefing, Malacañang announced that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recorded a total of 8,994 qualified students for their scholarship programs for 2018.
This is 69.60 percent higher than the 5,303 qualifiers in 2015, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Guevarra cited.
Out of the total qualified scholars, 5,172 students will be under the Republic Act 7687 Scholarship Program while 3,822 students will be under the DOST – Science Education Institute (SEI) Merit Scholarship Program.
Citing DOST’s report, Guevarra said a new stipend rate of P7,000 per month will be given to the new and on-going S&T scholars across all disciplines.
Apart from this, scholars are also entitled to tuition subsidy, book allowance, MS/PE clothing allowance, one economy-class roundtrip fare per year for those studying outside of their home province, and group accident insurance. ### PCO-Content