By Ellson Quismorio
Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate is batting for the immediate reopening of Boracay in Aklan for the sake of the people who lost their livelihood following its closure to tourists nearly three months ago.
This, even as Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu assured lawmakers in a recent public hearing at the House of Representatives that Boracay would be reopened as planned on October 26.
“Kami gusto namin buksan na ngayon, at kung mayroon mang mga rehabilitasyon na gagawin, pwedeng ituloy yan (We want to reopen it now, and if there’s still rehabilitation to be done, it can be continued) without sacrificing the livelihood and the interest of the poor,” Zarate said in an interview.
October 26 marks the end of the six-month closure ordered by Malacañang on the world-famous tourist site, which has apparently been plagued by environmental issues.
Foremost of these is the sewage problem, which has even led President Rodrigo Duterte to call Boracay a “cesspool.”
But Zarate offered a compromise of welcoming back visitors to the island while cordoning off specific areas that still need work.
“Kunwari i-rehabilitate mo yung dagat, pwede mo namang gawin yun na hindi mo isara yung kabuhayan, mag off-limits ka doon (For instance you can rehabilitate the sea while not shutting down livelihood, just mark it as off-limits),” he said.
“Kasi 36,000 na mahihirap na manggagawa ang nadisplace dyan. Initial lang nila binigyan ng mga ayuda tapos ngayon wala na. Kasi complex naman ang problema dyan sa Boracay eh. Pwedeng i-address yan na hindi nasa-sacrifice yung kabuhayan ng ating kababayan,” the militant solon stressed. (Because 36,000 poor workers were displaced there. They were initially given assistance but not anymore. The problem in Boracay is a complex one anyway. That can be addressed without sacrificing the people’s livelihood.)