DOT backs proposed closure of Boracay resort for mass gathering

Published November 26, 2020, 4:19 PM

by Tara Yap & Hanah Tabios

ILOILO CITY — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is backing the proposed closure of a resort in the world-famous Boracay Island in Malay town, Aklan province for violating rules on mass gathering and for lack of necessary permits.

The façade of Casa de Arte, a resort at world-famous Boracay Island.
(Casa de Arte / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

The DOT backed the recommendation of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIAMG) to close down Casa de Arte, a hotel in Manoc-Manoc village.

This after BIAMG authorities learned that Casa de Arte hosted a Halloween party last October 31 in clear violation of the prohibition on mass gatherings. 

This prompted BIAMG to recommend to Mayor Frolibar Bautista of Malay down to issue a closure order on Casa de Arte for violation of health protocols designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Malay local government unit (LGU) also conducted its own probeand to find out how many people attended the Halloween party. 

“We do not know how many people. There was supposed to be a log book containing the names of guests but it’s missing,” Bautista told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview. 

Bautista added that Casa de Arte has paid the penalty fees for hosting the Halloween party.

The Malay LGU also confirmed that Casa de Arte lacks the necessary permit to operate.

“Based on our records, it does not have a business permit. It is classified as a semi-residential and commercial,” Bautista said.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat slammed the irresponsible mass gathering at the Casa de Arte on the eve of Oct. 31 and ended at 4 a.m. on Nov. 1. 

Based on the video obtained by the Manila Bulletin, partygoers, some half-naked, were visibly ignoring physical distancing guidelines. 

The Malay Auxiliary Police Office (MAPO) said that Denise Sevilla, an employee of the DOT Region 6 Boracay Field and Compliance Monitoring Office, reported last Nov. 3 about the alleged night party in Boracay at the said property.  

DOT Western Visayas Regional Director Atty. Helen Catalbas clarified to the Manila Bulletin that Casa de Arte property is not a DOT-accredited establishment, hence, it is under the jurisdiction of the Malay LGU. 

Puyat maintained that while the “halloween party” involving the establishment that does not require a DOT-accreditation, the DOT strongly reminds the local government, stakeholders, as well as guests of the island, to strictly observe the duly prescribed health and safety guidelines as determined by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the BIAMG, in the case of Boracay Island.

“We are appealing to our LGUs to please cooperate with us in the safe and responsible reopening of our tourist destinations. The jobs and livelihoods that were recently restored in these sites will be affected once again if an outbreak occurs in the area due to the LGU’s negligence,” she said.