THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) has formally recommended to the Office of the President that the closure of Boracay “can be done in phases,” Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said.
In his press briefing at Malacañang on Monday, April 2, Mr. Guevarra told reporters that “the Department of Trade and Industry has actually submitted a separate memorandum [to the office of the President], saying that maybe [Boracay’s] closure can be done in phases.”
He added: “[It is] because of the effect on businesses and livelihood in the area. So that is something that the Office of the President will most likely consider as well.”
Mr. Guevarra likewise confirmed that the executive department has already received a joint recommendation letter by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Tourism (DoT), saying the island’s closure shall start on “April 26.”
However, Mr. Guevarra said the letter from the three agencies has a “very short content.”
“[Hence], we have requested-the Office of the President through the Executive Secretary’s office-the three agencies to submit a more detailed memorandum on the justification or if there is any qualification at all to their recommendation. I think today we’ll be receiving the memorandum-expanding, explaining and justifying their recommendation,” he said.
In their recommendation letter dated March 22, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año, and DoT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said:
“In view of the recent developments and concerns surrounding the island of Boracay, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Internal and Local Government, and the Department of Tourism have decided to unanimously recommend the closure of the island from entry of local and foreign tourists. This shall start from April 26, 2018 and six (6) months thereafter.”
The letter was addressed to President Rodrigo R. Duterte thru Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea.
Mr. Guevarra said, the President “will consider the economic impact on the island and the people residing and working there” when he makes his decision regarding its closure.
“Not just the environment, but also people, their livelihood, businesses. All of these will have to be taken into account.”
Asked when the stakeholders can expect the announcement of the President’s decision, Mr. Guevarra said: “Pretty soon I guess. Pretty soon. We are working on it, that’s our top priority.”
On whether the recommended April 26 closure may be approved, Mr. Guevarra said: “Of course, that’s the President’s prerogative. Of course even us, when we make our recommendations, we are not 100% sure that our recommendations will be followed. The President, you know, has the prerogative. He has all the information at the tip of his fingers. So, he has better information than the rest of us.” — Arjay L. Balinbin