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Thread: BORACAY, Paradise or Paradise Lost?

  1. #51
    Area for land reform in Boracay now bigger

    DAR looking at 170 hectares of farms in 3 villages possible for distribution

    By: Jaymee T. Gamil - Reporter / @jgamilINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:20 AM April 23, 2018

    At least 170 hectares of land in Boracay could be placed under the agrarian reform program, contrary to earlier reports that there were only up to 4 hectares of farms in the world-famous island resort.

    The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said updated figures showed the lands were in at least three villages.

    The DAR said the new estimate was from a study commissioned to geodetic engineer Ronald Mendoza.

    Mendoza headed a team that conducted a cadastral survey in Boracay from 2011 to 2012.

    A summary of the study, obtained by Inquirer, showed there were 102 hectares of agricultural lots in the village of Manoc-Manoc, 32 hectares in Balabag and 36 hectares in Yapak that were “possible for DAR coverage.”

    New estimate

    The new figures superceded the estimate of 4 hectares made by Agrarian Reform Undersecretary David Erro last week.

    Erro said his estimate was based on land use data in Boracay.

    The updated figures would be presented to President Duterte, who had announced he would distribute lands to farmers in Boracay, in a future Cabinet meeting.

    Mr. Duterte had called Boracay a cesspool where sewage was being thrown directly into the sea and ordered a cleanup drive.

    Officials said Mr. Duterte had a legal basis to carry out agrarian reform in Boracay in Proclamation No. 1064 that divided the island’s classification as 400 hectares of protected forest land and more than 600 hectares as “alienable and disposable” agricultural land.

    It was issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Marcos decree

    Luis Pangulayan, agrarian reform undersecretary for legal affairs, said, however, that the Arroyo proclamation failed to reverse Proclamation 1801, issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, declaring Boracay and other areas as tourist spots and marine zones.

    Pangulayan said the government could skip the normal process of acquiring lands in Boracay by applying Executive Order No. 407, also by Arroyo, seeking to accelerate the acquisition of lands for agrarian reform in Boracay.

    With four days before authorities start enforcing Mr. Duterte’s order to close Boracay on April 26, residents and business operators on the island were still waiting for the written order from the President in the form of either an executive order, declaration or proclamation.

    No black and white

    Assistant Environment Secretary Epimaco Densing III on April 17 said the President was expected to issue the order and declaration last week.

    Racefin Suco, municipal local government operations officer, said local officials had not received any advisory on the closure order and state of calamity declaration.

    But even without the order, guidelines governing the closure have been disseminated.

    Under the guidelines, only residents would be allowed to swim in the beach at Station 1 at the northern end of the island from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. only.

    No floating structures would be allowed within 3 kilometers from the shoreline and fishing would be allowed only for Boracay residents, according to the guidelines which have not been officially released.

    Officials said tourists would be stopped at the Caticlan jetty port and no visitors would be allowed except in cases of emergencies and with clearance from authorities. - With a report from Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

  2. #52
    6-month Boracay closure to cost economy P1.96B

    Neda chief says other tourist spots to offset losses

    By: Ben O. de Vera - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:30 AM April 25, 2018

    The six-month closure of Boracay Island from tourists starting Thursday, April 26, will cost the economy about P1.96 billion, which the country’s chief economist said Tuesday would be compensated for by an increase in arrivals in other domestic tourist spots.

    Citing an earlier estimate of the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda director general Ernesto M. Pernia told a press briefing that the temporary closure of the popular tourist destination, which will be rehabilitated from environmental degradation, would shed only 0.1 percent from the gross domestic product this year.

    Noting that the economy was currently about P14 trillion worth and was expected to grow by at least 7 percent this year, about P980 million a quarter would be lost, especially in the affected local government units.

    “Boracay [island], Malay [town], Aklan [province] and Region 6 will suffer—their growth rates will be trimmed,” Pernia said.

    For Western Visayas, its gross regional domestic product growth would be cut by 5.7 percentage points, Pernia added.

    The Neda chief nonetheless said that “on the other hand, there will be other areas in the Visayas earning some increase in growth rates; also, Luzon and Mindanao will have some increase” as tourists are instead expected to flock to other destinations in the country.

    “We are only assuming that 50 percent of the volume of tourists going to Boracay will be going to the other [local] destinations. I would assume that closer to 70-75 percent of those who used to go to Boracay will go to the other tourist destinations, especially domestic tourists,” Pernia said.

    “It’s going to be a temporary shortfall in terms of tourism income and tourist arrivals,” Pernia added.

    “Regarding the possible shortfall in tourist arrivals due to the Boracay closure, the Department of Tourism will have to step up its efforts at advertising and marketing our several other tourist destinations, so the same volume of tourists, if not more, will be diverted to these other beautiful locations,” the Neda chief said in a separate statement.

    Private stakeholders in the tourism industry earlier projected that economic losses from the six-month closure of the world-renowned island could exceed P50 billion in tourism revenues while 35,000 jobs would be lost. Most affected are the resorts and airlines, which have already cut back on their flights to and from the island.

  3. #53
    Fire sale, riot drill, TRO plea as Boracay party ends – for now

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:06 AM April 26, 2018

    BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan - This resort island suddenly became more affordable, as police in riot gear staged drills and workers mounted a last-ditch effort to stop its closure to tourists for up to six months.

    President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Boracay off-limits to tourists from Thursday so it can be rehabilitated, after pronouncing the 1,032-hectare island a “cesspool.”

    Two days before the closure, signs showing reduced prices of goods and services were everywhere.

    The D’Mall commercial complex at the heart of the long beach here had been transformed into a bagsak presyo (cut-price) center.

    Along the beach, branded Boracay shirts originally priced at P199.75 were being sold at P100 per piece. Sunglasses were sold at half the previous price.

    Hotels and restaurants were offering discounts on food to dispose of their stocks. Several resorts lowered their room rates to up to 50 percent. Others upgraded the accommodations of their guests for free.

    It was buy-one-take-one for fruit shakes at a hotel near Boat Station 1 at the northern end of the island.

    Explosions, gunfire

    On the eve of the shutdown, explosions and gunfire erupted near Willy’s Rock formation.

    Security forces, including those from the Navy Special Warfare Group (SWAG) and PNP Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), simulated a violent protest rally, bombing and hostage-taking, startling the laid-back beach community.

    The exercise included a sea chase and gun battle with aerial support in a cordoned-off area.

    While government officials lauded the exercise, several residents, including expatriates, decried the security measures as “overkill.”

    “They’ve gone completely nuts. [Explosions], gunshots from everywhere, helicopters with machine guns hovering over the island. Is this to scare the last tourists away and intimidate the remaining residents so they will be submissive?” a resident said.

    An expatriate said the massive security measures sent a negative image of the island. “Ridiculous,” another resident said.

    Police officials defended the measures.

    Unhampered rehab

    PNP Deputy Director General Fernando Mendez Jr. said the measures were meant to ensure “continuous and unhampered” rehabilitation efforts.

    The priority is to fix the drainage, sewage lines, water treatment system and the roads, and to remove easement violations on the beach and illegal structures on wetlands and forestlands.

    Some residents complain they were not given a chance to comply with laws that are only now being enforced.

    Canadian Allan Lieberman has called Boracay home for three decades. Despite having legal papers and permits issued by local authorities, he’s demolishing his 10-year-old cliffside resort, in anticipation of being evicted for occupying a plot that is supposed to be protected forestland.

    He thinks it’s was time for him to leave anyway.

    “Boracay? I hate Boracay,” he said, as a team of workers behind him took down solar panels and wooden poles. “There’s nothing of the old Boracay left. Even if restored, its soul has gone.”

    Last-ditch effort

    In a last-ditch effort, three private individuals—Boracay residents and workers—asked the Supreme Court to halt the closure.

    “Petitioners [are] seeking relief from a blatantly oppressive governmental measure that would deprive them of their livelihood, violate their rights and cause suffering for them, their families, and thousands of other [people] living and working on the island,” the petition read.

    It added that the President’s directive to keep Boracay off limits to tourists was “marked by single-handedness, arbitrariness, and the usurpation of authority vested by the Constitution in another branch.”

    Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Supreme Court had ruled that the government primarily owned the island, which was why it could close it to tourists in the exercise of its police power to protect the environment.


    The closure threatens the livelihood of 17,000 hotel, restaurant and other tourism workers, plus about 11,000 construction workers.

    More than 2 million tourists visited Boracay, pumping P56 billion in revenue into the Philippine economy.

    Local officials are scheduled to close Boracay to tourists starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday “with or without” an executive order from President Duterte.

    Only residents and workers with ID cards and terminal passes will be allowed to purchase boat tickets at the Caticlan port in Malay town before proceeding to Boracay.

    While many residents and business owners were resigned to the island’s closure, some were facing the challenge in high spirits.

    ‘Boodle fight’

    Owners and employees of the Sea Wind Boracay resort were set to hold a “boodle fight” on Wednesday night. In a boodle fight, people eat food on a long table with their bare hands.

    “We would be with our employees because they are like family to us. And we didn’t want to be gloomy because this was also an opportunity to make Boracay better,” Ruth Tirol-Jarantilla, one of the owners, told the Inquirer.

    Resort operator Hayden Bandiola said he would bring his 40 staff members to a spring resort in Antique province for a fun trip on April 28.

    “Many of us will not be seeing each other for several months and I would like us to part ways in a positive note and with no ill-feelings,” he said.

    Several residents, expatriates and business owners were having dinner and drinks until midnight on Thursday to mark the closure. - With reports from Marlon Ramos, Leila B. Salaverria and the wires

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