By Rose Anne Dela Cruz
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will declare a State of Calamity in Boracay island to assist the thousands of workers who would be displaced by the planned six-month closure of the world famous tourists spot.
The assurance was made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday during a press briefing in Malacañang. He said the State of Calamity would pave the way for the release of the PhP2 billion calamity fund.
At the same time, Roque said the displacement of workers in Boracay, which is located in Aklan province, won’t be that much that not everybody need to leave the island.
“Pero hindi naman lahat ng workers ma-didisplace. Bakit? Eh ang daming trabahong kailangan gawin sa Boracay, so hindi naman sila kinakailangang umalis lahat. So siguro maiiba trabaho nila pero magkakaroon pa rin sila ng trabaho…,” Roque insists.
Earlier, the Boracay Foundation Incorporated, a non-profit and non-stock association of entrepreneurs in the island, said over 36,000 jobs and over 17,000 employees would be directly affected by the total closure of businesses.
Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government has finalized livelihood programs to assist the displaced workers.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre, on the other hand, said the tourism department is still computing how much revenue will it lose due to the island’s closure. Taking an optimistic view, he noted that tourism has not been affected by the earlier pronouncement of the closure plan, citing that for January to March 2018, tourist arrival even increased.
Meantime, the Department of Interior and local Government is expecting huge income losses with the closure of Boracay.
Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing bared that the estimated gross losses in revenue due to Borcay’s closure could reach PhP18 to PhP20 billion for the period of six months.
“That’s why it is not to the interest of everybody to go the full six months. We have to fast track everything.” Densing said.
He noted that in order to make this possible, all stakeholders should be part of the rehabilitation process.
Earlier, The National Economic and Development Authority said that while the shutdown will have a minimal impact on the country’s economic growth, it can have an adverse short term impact on the local economy.
The NEDA said the closure is estimated to only have a point one percent impact on the gross domestic product growth.
The Inter-agency task force will conduct a working conference on Tuesday in the island to get a clearer picture of the costs and other details for the rehabilitation of Boracay.