Boracay situation declared ‘state of calamity’

The island’s waters. (Photo by Paul Benzi Sebastian Florendo)

Paradise island Boracay is now officially under a state of calamity, a move necessary to release funds for its rehabilitation.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has called the beach destination a “cesspool,” made it official in a proclamation yesterday following the start of Boracay’s controversial six-month closure.

Placed under a state of calamity are brangays (villages) Balabag, Manoc-Manoc, and Yapak in Malay, Aklan, where Boracay is located.

Under a state of calamity, the government can control the prices of basic necessities by implementing a “price freeze,” grant no-interest loans, devote calamity funds for the area, and open it up for foreign donations.

READ: Boracay tourists, residents count down to closure

Among the reasons for the declaration include longstanding environmental problems like fecal coliform in beaches, bad solid waste management, and damaged habitats of the puka shells that make up Boracay’s famous white sand.

“It is necessary to implement urgent measures to address the abovementioned human-induced hazards, to protect and promote the health and well-being of its residents, workers, and tourists, and to rehabilitate the Island in order to ensure the sustainability of the area and prevent further degradation of its rich ecosystem,” the proclamations states.

READ: Boracay by the numbers: 6 months, 30,000 jobs, 1 very uncertain future

Most businesses in the island rely on the almost 2 million tourists that visit every year, which means about 30,000 workers could lose their jobs during the six-month shutdown, making the calamity funds all the more important. Some workers have even chosen to leave Boracay to look for jobs in their home provinces.

Boracay has also been under high security with about 600 policemen deployed to the island in case of unrest.

According to the proclamation, the barangaymentioned will be under a state of calamity until it is lifted by Duterte, even after the six-month closure.

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