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The pristine beaches of Boracay will be out of sight for local and foreign tourists in the next six months, starting April 26. This is the order of President Rodrigo Duterte, following recommendations from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to rehabilitate the island.

Even before the island’s closure was made official, concerns have been raised regarding workers and local residents whose livelihood will be affected by the move. Physically barring tourists from the island will essentially give businesses no reason to continue operations. In response, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said calamity funds will be activated to assist residents whose livelihood would be affected by the closure.

Environmental issues are not new to the island. In fact, the spread of coliform bacteria and algal blooms are attributed to pollution caused by poor sewage management. For the longest time, environmentalists’ have been calling for the recovery of the island, too. The abrupt decision and absolute shutdown of Boracay, however, has taken them aback.

Netizens seem to have mixed feelings about the closure of the world-famous island, which Duterte has previously called a cesspool. While there are some who favor what looks like a pro-environment move, there are others who feel for the workers whose livelihood will be affected.

“[I am] so torn about the Boracay issue. On one hand, I whole-heartedly agree that the islands need to be rehabilitated and the Atis need to take back what is theirs, but how about the other locals – the waiters, the boatmen, the micro-entrepreneurs – who have families to feed?” the tweet said.

Essayist Shakira Sison shared on Twitter how a Boracay business owner is handling the island’s closure.

“[I] spoke with a Boracay business owner who is set to close, terminate 200 employees and default on loans id the island is close as scheduled at the end of April. He’s just one of of over a thousand businesses. Forty-thousand unemployed people on an island? Boracay will turn into Venezuela,” she tweeted, referring to the economic crisis that struck the South American country in the last five years.

Another netizen had a similar sentiment, but thinks that the need for the island’s recovery outweigh other concerns.

“There are a thousand reasons that businesses closing in Boracay Island is a bad thing, but there are a million reasons why Boracay needs to be closed. Their business will still stop if the island gives up its foundation to hold everything up,” the tweet said.

Jason Magbanua, in a manner he knows best, published a video highlighting the sentiments of workers in the island, including alternative solutions and their inclusion in the dialogue. As of writing, the video has over 200,000 views, almost 5,000 shares, and more than 5,000 reactions on Facebook.

If ever there was a time that I'll ask you guys to watch something I made and then share it in social media if it connects with you, NOW is that time. ___FACT.The stakeholders of Boracay have been asking for government support for a decade now, name the agency and they've approached it, DENR, DOT, TIEZA etc. Little attention and help was given, until now. So it's complete bullshit to harbor the notion that the locals have done nothing and have only ravaged and pillaged.FACT.Thousands upon thousands of real people will be affected by a complete closure of the island. Real, breathing humans, not statistics. We are talking about kids, mothers, fathers, entire families – not an "insignificant GDP drop."FACT.There are more realistic solutions in solving the problems of Boracay. Solutions that won't completely disenfranchise the people inhabiting the island, the greatest, most important stakeholders of them all.

Posted by Jason Magbanua on Wednesday, April 4, 2018

“There is an increasing clamor to close the entire island of Boracay for rehabilitation. Those who clamor for it may forget that the island is also its people,” the video showed, along with the closing message,”Save Boracay. Don’t close it.”

There are others, however, who thinks the the temporary loss of jobs should not get in the way of the island’s rehabilitation.

“It’s facile, irresponsible, and myopic to use the temporary loss of jobs to argue against Boracay closure. What happens to those jobs if Boracay goes beyond the point of rehabilitation and becomes a festering cesspool,” one netizen pointed out.

Detailed guidelines will reportedly be released on April 10 as officials from various government agencies continue to discuss and work on the draft.

What do you think about Boaracay’s 6-month closure?

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