Ex-DENR chief Gina Lopez favors 'strong arm' Boracay closure

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Ex-DENR chief Gina Lopez favors 'strong arm' Boracay closure

In this March 8, 2018 photo, former Environment chief and former ABS-CBN Foundation chair Gina Lopez delivers a speech during the launch of "Quest for Love", a nationwide search for organizations. ABS-CBN PR/Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — For former Environment chief Gina Lopez, the government should prioritize the environment over business as she voiced approval for the Duterte administration's move to address issues on Boracay Island.
Asked about her stand on the potential closure of Boracay, Lopez, a long-time environment advocate, told Philstar.com that she is "very much in favor of what the president is doing."
President Rodrigo Duterte last month threatened to shut down the top tourist destination, saying it has become a cesspool.
He also directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to recommend a course of action regarding the island's problems within 60 days.
"It can't be business at a cost of taking care of the environment. You know, you'll ruin everything so it's good you come down strong and everybody else gets on their feet," Lopez told Philstar.com last Thursday.
Lopez disclosed that she is not familiar with hotel operations so she cannot comment on how long the closure should be. "But I'm very much in favor of the strong arm for the environment," Lopez, whose appointment the congressional Commission on Appointments rejected last year, said.
The Department of Interior and Local Government previously proposed a two-month business shutdown and placing Boracay under six-month state of calamity. A declaration of a state of calamity makes emergency funds available to local governments.
The Senate committee on environment that conducted probe into the tourist destination, however, opposed the total closure of the island. They are recommending to only close establishments that did not comply with environmental standards. 
During her speech at the launch of nationwide search "Quest for Love", to be featured on her travel show "G Diaries", Lopez noted how there is a lack of "genuine" economic growth in Boracay.

"You know, look at Boracay, Boracay [earns] P20 billion yearly. But I was told the original settlers of Boracay … they're called kulots – are somewhere there in the mountains," Lopez said, referring to the Ati people of Aklan.
"You know you make P20 billion pesos in an island every year and the people… that's their home that's their island and they're somewhere there in the mountains. You can never bring on economic growth like this," she added.
Lopez said the island can have genuine economic growth through area development, which her foundation "I Love" wishes to accomplish.
In April 2017, Lopez also criticized the tourism model of Boracay saying it displaces the poor. 
"I don't like Boracay… But the people who live in Boracay, where are they? They call them kulot (curly). They're somewhere there in the mountain,” Lopez was quoted in a business forum last year.
"I don’t believe in that kind of tourism," she added.

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