Palace touts Filipinos to visit Boracay

Published October 5, 2020, 9:33 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Filipinos deserve to take a vacation in coronavirus-free Boracay after enduring a long pandemic lockdown, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.(CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.(CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Roque has encouraged the public, especially residents of Metro Manila, to visit the world-famous beach destination provided they pass certain health requirements.

In line with the gradual reopening of the economy, the government has allowed Boracay to accept tourists from areas in general community quarantine (GCQ) or lower classification effective October 1 after months of closure. Visitors however must test negative in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 48 to 72 hours prior to travel date.

“Ang mensahe ng Presidente, kinakailangan mabuhay tayo sa kabila ng COVID-19. Puwede naman gawin yan sa pamamagitan sa pag-ingat ng buhay nang tayo po ay maghanapbuhay (The President’s message is we must live despite COVID-19. We can do that by taking care of our heath so we can go to work),” Roque said during a televised press briefing in Boracay.

“Panahon na po para tayo naman po ay magbakasyon matapos ng napakatagal na lockdown lalong-lalo na sa Metro Manila. Nag-aantay na po ang pinakamagandang beach sa buong mundo — Boracay. Open for business (It is time for us to take a vacation after a very long lockdown especially in Metro Manila. The world’s most beautiful beach is waiting for you. Boracay is open for business),” he said.

Roque, accompanied by his staff, traveled to Boracay to see first-hand the reopening of the island to tourists and visit local businesses. The Palace official remained awestruck by the beauty of the island but admitted feeling sad over the job losses of local workers due to sluggish economic activity.

“Kaya kami naririto ay engganyuhin iyong ating mga kababayan ‘no; dahil kapag hindi po tayo bumisita sa Boracay, ang mga eroplano na walang laman, ikakansela ang mga flights. Kapag nangyari po iyon, magiging mas mahirap nang pumunta sa Boracay at mas maraming mga negosyong malulugi at baka tuluyan nang magsara (We are here to invite our countrymen. Because if we don’t visit Boracay, the flights may be cancelled due to empty airplanes. If this happens, it will be harder to go to Boracay and many businesses will lose profit and eventually shut down),” he said.

Roque likewise dispelled concerns about the government’s alleged conflicting messages to the public about staying at home to avoid COVID-19 and this time urging domestic travel to Boracay.

He explained that the government has decided to gradually reopen the local economy, including the tourism industry, while health measures are in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“Ang talagang messaging po natin ngayon doon sa advertisement na prinoduce [produced] po ng Office of the Press Secretary at suportado po ng IATF, ng DOH at ng Department of Finance: ‘Ingat buhay para sa hanapbuhay.’ Iyan na po ang ating mensahe at iyan din po iyong thrust ng second National Action Plan ng National Task Force on COVID-19 (Our messaging now as seen in the advertisement produced by the Office of the Press Secretary and supported by the IATF, DOH and Department of Finance is to protect health for livelihood. That’s our message and that’s the thrust of the second National Action Plan of the National Task Force on COVID-19),” he said.

The government earlier relaxed the age restriction to tourists visiting Boracay.  Prior to this decision, the community quarantine guidelines state that senior citizens and the young must stay at home except for essential activities. 

To interested visitors, Roque said they must register and fill up a health declaration form. The form must be submitted alongside a copy of PCR negative result, confirmed hotel booking slip, and proof of identification.

“Matapos po iyang isumite online, makakakuha po kayo ng QR code, at matapos po niyan ay pupuwede nang pumunta sa Boracay (After submitting it online, you will get a QR code. Afterwards, you may travel to Boracay),” he said.