Cynthia Villar: Boracay closure won't affect family business

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Cynthia Villar: Boracay closure won't affect family business

Image presented by Sen. Nancy Binay during a Senate inquiry in Boracay earlier this month shows wastewater being discharged directly into the sea. File

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Cynthia Villar on Wednesday confirmed that her family has interests in Boracay Island in Aklan but said a proposed total closure of the tourist destination will not affect their business.
"Mayroon kaming investment, a very small investment in Boracay but we are in 139 towns and cities in the Philippines. [Kahit] isang magsara na bayan, walang effect sa aming kompanya," Villar, who heads the Senate Committee on Environment, which conducting an inquiry into Boracay environmental issues said in a chance interview with reporters.
"So, I don’t care. I mean, I'm not managing our business. I don't think it will affect our business kahit isara nila ang Boracay," she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte previously threatened to shut down the island, saying it has become a cesspool. He subsequently ordered Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo to rehabilitate the Boracay within six months.
The senator said she doesn't believe there is a conflict of interest even if she leads the panel conducting the probe.
She said that she has done so much for the environment and is still keen on doing it, pointing out that she maintained the wetlands in Las Piñas and Parañaque City.
Villar's family corporation has a six-hectare condominium project on the island. She said that Vista Land bought Boracay Sands, which is located in the island’s Station 3, in 2016.
"It's been operating, it's a small hotel," the senator explained.
Senators Villar and Loren Legarda earlier proposed to recommend the closure of non-compliant establishments. They made the recommendation after the Senate committee conducted an on-site investigation into the degradation of the island last Friday. 
Senators Nancy Binay, Joel Villanueva and Juan Miguel Zubiri also opposed the total closure of the tourist destination. However, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said closing Boracay for two months will benefit all stakeholders, including tourists, in the long run.
Villar assured the public that her family's business is compliant with the standards for the island's environmental safety.
"In fact, before I went to Boracay, I asked our company kung compliant ba kayo [kasi baka] ipahiya niyo pa ako. They're compliant," she said.
Villar disclosed that their family also has interests in Costa dela Vista, which is owned by Vista Land's Vista Residences. She said it would not affect their business if the establishment is operating illegally because they do not own the property.
On Wednesday, international magazine Forbes Magazine named the senator's husband, former Senate President Manuel Villar, as one of the 14 Filipinos who made it to the top billionaires in the world. He ranked 791st with P3 billion net worth from his real estate business. 

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