MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna party list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate has filed a resolution asking the House of Representatives to launch an investigation into the reported plan to construct a mega casino-resort in Boracay Island in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to close and rehabilitate the island.
Zarate filed House Resolution No. 1806 last April 3, saying that the lower Chamber, through its committees on natural resources and ecology, “must step in to prevent any more damage to Boracay and to the people relying on the commerce of the island.”
He said he found it “ironic and intriguing” that despite the President’s order to shut down Boracay for six months starting April 26, the government allowed the entry and construction of a mega casino-resort in the island.
“It is very ironic, even intriguing though, that while the government recommends the islands closure for months for its supposed rehabilitation, it allowed the entry and construction of a mega casino-resort in Boracay,” Zarate said in a statement, Wednesday.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) earlier approved the $500-million integrated casino resort of Macaus Galaxy Entertainment Group and its local partner, AB Leisure Exponent Inc., a unit of the publicly listed Leisure and Resorts World Corp.
Zarate said allowing the entry of this mega casino-resort is “projected to add more burden to the island and its people and environment.”
“The carrying capacity, or the population that an area can support without undergoing deterioration, of Boracay was estimated to have been already been exceeded in the year 2010 or 2011, according to the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),” he wrote in the resolution.
Zarate also expressed concern on Duterte’s move to close Boracay without concrete plans for its residents and local small businesses.
“The rehabilitation of Boracay’s waters and forests, waste management, and the setting up of environmental safeguards to prevent the deterioration of the island is long overdue. However, there is serious concern that these issues, however valid, may ease local small businesses and jobs of tens of thousands of people to give way to the big-ticket project,” he said.
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV also filed a similar resolution, asking the Senate committee on tourism to probe the impending closure order which “would allow the speedier construction of a casino in Boracay.”
Trillanes also questioned why “the government has yet to present a blueprint on how it will rehabilitate the island and mitigate the impact of the said closure to its inhabitants.”
He said Duterte has “no clear plans and guidelines on how the government will handle the dislocation of workers and losses of business operators are in place.
This fact was admitted by the President himself in a briefing last Monday.
“But master plan wala akong master plan diyan, linisin ko muna iyan kasi agricultural iyan. So maybe after that, I’ll give the farmers i-land reform ko na iyan mas mabuti pa,” Duterte said.
In the same briefing, he also declared that no casino would be built in the Island and the 1,032-hectare resort island would be an agrarian reform area.
In a statement Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated the President’s stance: Boracay closed to tourists and no casinos in Boracay. Period. (davaotoday.com)