By Analou De Vera
The government assured that it will strictly enforce the carrying capacity as well as the environmental laws, and has stood firm that there will be no casinos in the world-famous Boracay Island to maintain its pristine condition after it reopened on Friday.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that her office will ensure to maintain the set carrying capacity of 19,215 persons per day on the island.
“Ang problema nga namin, everybody wants to go to Boracay. As we’ve seen in social media a lot of the press have been covering not just local but also international press. They are actually very impressed at what we have done in six-month’s time,” said Puyat in a press conference.
“Right now, our main task is to enforce the carrying capacity because everybody wants to come to Boracay,” she said.
The tourism chief added that some other countries also plan to “emulate” in their beaches what the Philippine government has done to Boracay.
Environmental Secretary Roy Cimatu said they will conduct a “periodic inspection” on the environmental compliance of all establishments in the country’s island paradise and will also continue to monitor the quality of water in Boracay beaches.
Issuance of executive order for ‘no casino’ policy
Meanwhile, Puyat stood firm that there will be no casinos in the island because it is the directive of President Duterte.
“One cabinet meeting, it was agreed that the President already said there would be no casino or gambling, even the existing ones before Boracay opened… it would not be allowed to open,” said Puyat.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said his department has recommended the issuance of an executive order for the implementation of the said policy.
“The DOJ has specifically recommended the issuance of an executive order that will somehow guide not only the current administration but also for the longer term, the matter of implementing a policy of no casinos in Boracay,” said Guevarra.
“Dahil ang konsepto ng [the concept of] Boracay is a family-oriented activity, and not meant for foreigners and tourists who will come to Boracay not to enjoy the place but to engage in gambling,” he added.
Guevarra, meanwhile, said the franchises of the existing casinos in Boracay can be revoked anytime by the government.
“We have given the opinion that iyan kasing franchise whether provisional or permanent is revocable at any time because that is a privilege granted by the state. It can be revoked any time,” he said.
Interior department officer-in-charge Eduardo Año said the President also called him to ensure that no casino will be operating on the island.
“The other night, the President gave specific instructions to me to ensure that no casino shall be operating even the existing ones. In fact, we requested PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) chair Andrea Domingo to cancel the franchise and permit of these existing casinos,” said Año.