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Boracay shutdown

By Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

The Duterte Administration is eyeing the total closure of Boracay island during the “habagat” months of June and July this year.

The owners and employees of the affected business establishments aired their disagreement to the planned closure.

While such is expected, some of their reasons mirror the very reasons why Boracay has found itself in its current predicament.

Those who are opposed to the total closure of the island during the “habagat” months contend that businesses will still bear heavy financial losses as June and July are not really “lean” months for the island. They maintained that the popularity of Boracay created high demand for tourism-related services in the island all year round and that there are no longer peak and lean months.

Should the government stop the implementation of laws simply to prevent financial losses in the business sector?

Certainly not. Boracay is in its current state because, for the longest time, the concerned national and local government agencies together with the business sector in the island prioritized economic gains over environmental protection and compliance to environmental laws.

Others contend that it is unfair for the government to do a total closure of the island because it will have negative affect even those who did not violate environmental laws.

This reasoning mirrors short-term and selfish instead of strategic and holistic thinking, which is also a major factor why Boracay is in its current state now. Can the needed rehabilitation of the island be done, which will include the demolition of permanent structure built on prohibited places, without compromising the safety of tourists? Will it be a good promotion for the island to have photos of rehabilitation works posted in social media accounts and seen all over the world?

The planned closure of Boracay is not just an issue about enforcing environmental laws. It is first and foremost doing what is best for the island. Business establishments that did not violate any law should share the responsibility of doing what’s best for the island. After all, a rehabilitated Boracay will also benefit them in the long run.

Others claim that the planned closure is a drastic move. What’s wrong with a drastic action for a serious problem like the one that Boracay has now? It is precisely the failure of both concerned government agencies and the business sector in Boracay to do the needed drastic actions in the past that caused the problems in Boracay now.

Boracay has already given so much particularly to business owners and employees. Are two months of “rest” too long and too much?