Aklan residents appeal : Don’t close Boracay

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BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan —  Residents and establishment owners here coalesced and asked the government not to close the island.

In an attempt to save the island from closure, the group claimed  they are open for rehabilitation but not closure.

This is after the inter-agency task force composed of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), of Tourism (DOT), and of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) gave the recommendation to close the island for six months to give way for its rehabilitation.

While waiting for the final decision of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on the island’s fate, the Boracay community showed its commitment for the rehabilitation of the island.

However, the group is pushing for rehabilitation without closing the island.

“We are for rehabilitation but not to close Boracay,” said Mark Santiago of the newly-formed movement Boracay United.

The group is composed of Boracay Foundation Inc., Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)-Boracay, Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops and the people from the community.

Instead of total closure, the group is urging the government to rehabilitate the island by phase.

“They should close per section,” he said adding that this will also allow the businesses and the people to plan.

This will also save the thousands of workers who will lose their jobs, he added.

Santiago also added that only violating establishments should be closed, but the ones who are doing following the law. “Punish the violators,” he stressed.

To show their commitment to do its part in the cleanup and rehabilitation of the island, the group conducted a massive beach cleanup along the four-kilometer White Beach on Saturday afternoon.

The activity is part of the series of cleanup activities conducted by the group.

Last March 17, the group has also organized a symbolic switch-off activity wherein Boracay establishments turned off their lights for eight minutes to show how the resort island would look if closed.

While lights are off, participants raised their mobile phones, flashlights, and candles on air.

Aside from the switch-off activity, people composed mostly of workers from different establishments formed a chain along the White Beach holding banners with a statement saying “yes to clean up and no to closure” last March 18.-Karen Bermejo/PNA

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