By Arjay L. Balinbin

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday, March 20, assured the inter-agency task force working on the rehabilitation of the country’s world-famous Boracay island that he would support its recommendation, even if the closure of the island would take “a little bit longer.”

The President made the announcement during the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) held at the Manila Hotel on Tuesday night.

The President said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Secretary Eduardo M. Año informed him last Monday, March 19, that “he thinks” the rehabilitation of the island “will take a little bit longer.”

Mr. Duterte added: “I answered him. I said, ‘General, you are there. I placed you there. Whatever your decision is, I will support you.'”

“It’s up to you. You just make the recommendation, and if I find everything that is alright and in consonance with the… [We’ll] go for it,” the President said further.

According to Mr. Año, Boracay’s rehabilitation “will take about something like six months.”

“Then do it, I told him,” the President said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), DILG and Department of Tourism (DoT) recommended the one-year total closure of Boracay island last week, March 15.

Presidential Spokesperson Herminio Harry L. Roque, Jr., in a press briefing at the Palace on Monday, said the President will study the best option, but it will definitely not be a permanent closure of the island.

The spokesman likewise assured that Mr. Duterte’s decision would take into consideration the “plight of the small resort owners” and the impact on the economy, especially at the local level.