By Ellson Quisomorio
Makabayan lawmaker, Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate has assailed the supposed “aimless” and “arbitrary” plan to fix Boracay, which entails a six-month closure of the island.
In a press conference with fellow militant solons Thursday at the House of Representatives, Zarate expressed great worry for the locals who will bear the brunt of the economic impact of the Malacañang-ordered closure.
“Wala siyang rehabilitation plan, napakahirap ng ganun (There’s no rehabilitation plan, that makes it hard),” Zarate said.
“Sasabihin mo isarado tapos wala kang malinaw na plano. Sasabihin mo anyway may P2 billion dyan. Pero kung titignan mo hanggang ngayon, hindi rin malinaw kung sino makikinabang nung P2 billion na yun,” he said.
(You say you’ll close it down but there’s no clear plan. You say there’s a P2-billion fund there. But up to now, it’s not clear who will benefit from that P2 billion.)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier announced the six-month closure of the Aklan island resort beginning April 26 to pave the way for its rehabilitation.
Know for its pristine beaches, world-famous Boracay has reportedly been is a state of environmental decay for years. This prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to call it a “cesspool” prior to ordering the island’s closure to tourists.
“What about the peddlers, yung mga nagtitinda ng souvenir items (Those who sell souvenir items)?” Zarate asked.
“So talagang hanggang ngayon, parang nakapa-arbitrary (Up to now, it seems very arbitrary),” the militant solon said of the government’s plan for Boracay.
The economic loss from the closure could reach as much as P20 billion, Local Government Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III has been quoted as saying.
“Wag na natin isipin yung mga may-ari ng hotel at mga resort doon (Never mind the hotel and resort owners there). They can survive. But the ordinary people, yung mga dependent dito sa kabuhayan nila sa Boracay (they are the ones dependent on their livelihood in Boracay),” Zarate said.
“Ang nakasalalay dito, hindi lang kabuhayan, talagang buhay ng ordinaryong mamamayan (What’s at stake here is not just the livelihood, but the lives of the ordinary people),” he added.