Malacañang on Thursday, April 5, formally announced that the President has approved the recommendation to totally close down Boracay Island for a maximum period of six months starting on April 26.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved during the 24th Cabinet meeting the proposal to shutdown the island to tourists in line with its much needed rehabilitation, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said in a Palace press briefing.
The Cabinet official assured the public that the President’s decision would pave the way for the island’s restoration as a tourism paradise.
“Itong panandaliang pagsara po ng Boracay ay para masiguro na makikilala ng mga susunod na henerasyon bilang paraiso rin ‘yang Boracay,” Secretary Roque said.
“Boracay will be relaunched. Boracay will always be there. And the closure is necessary to ensure that Boracay will be there for the next generation,” he added.
Per the President’s directive, Roque cited, among the first things to be done would be a validation on which resorts or hotels in the island are complying with existing environmental rules and regulations.
The Palace Spokesperson further said priority would be given to the construction of new sewage lines, since the existing ones currently being operated by Boracay Island Water Company, Inc. were proven to be insufficient and had caused backflows.
Meanwhile, Roque also said the government is exhausting all means to provide alternative and temporary livelihood for Filipino workers who would be affected by the shutdown. He said a state of calamity may be declared in Boracay to enable the government to tap around P2 billion worth of calamity funds for displaced workers.
“There will be a declaration of a state of calamity. But the President was insistent that the funds that will be spent will go only to the workers who will be displaced. He will not let any resort owner benefit from any sort of calamity fund,” Roque stressed.
President sets 3 conditions before resuming peace talks with Reds
Malacañang also announced the President’s directive to resume the government’s peace talks with Communist rebels, subject to specific preconditions.
Secretary Roque said the President told his Cabinet that he would authorize the revival of peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), provided that they agree with three conditions.
First, Roque said the CPP-NPA would have to honor a genuine ceasefire with the government during the time of the peace talks. Furthermore, the CPP-NPA would have to desist from collecting revolutionary taxes while the ceasefire is ongoing. Lastly, Roque said the CPP-NPA is not allowed to insist on a coalition government, which he said is “absolutely not part of the bargaining table.”
“If the CPP-NPA would agree to these conditions, then peace talks could resume,” he said, adding that the President even expressed willingness to allow CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison to come home freely for the purpose of participating in the negotiations.
Roque stressed that the government’s openness to resume peace talks with the Reds is rooted in President Duterte’s commitment to achieve lasting peace throughout the country.
“Nakikita niyo na seryoso si Presidente na makamit ang kapayapaan… laban sa mga komunista,” he said.
Asked whether the recent development would affect a pending petition to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorists, Roque said the government would first await the communist group’s position before doing anything about the case.
“We don’t know in the first place if the CPP-NPA will agree to the terms of the President, because the terms are not subject to negotiation,” he said. “Sa ngayon po, antayin muna natin kung anong magiging kasagutan ng CPP-NPA,” he added.
The Palace Spokesperson further said operations against the CPP-NPA would remain in effect until the rebel group accepts the government’s conditions.
“Habang wala pang kasunduan na ituloy ang peace talks, tuloy pa rin po ang operasyon laban sa CPP-NPA, gaya ng patuloy pa rin na pag-atake nila sa ating mga kasundaluhan,” Roque noted.###PCO-Content