DILG to Aklan LGUs: Enforce Boracay tourist limit or face show cause order for negligence

DILG to Aklan LGUs: Enforce Boracay tourist limit or face show cause order for negligence
This September 2020 photo shows the sunset in Boracay island, Malay, Aklan.
Malay Municipal Tourism Office / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government warned the Provincial Government of Aklan and the Municipality of Malay Aklan to ensure compliance to the daily visitor threshold amid a recent spate in tourists "or be ready to receive Show Cause Orders due to negligence."

This comes after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año noted what he said were documented violations of Boracay Island’s carrying capacity for tourists last Holy Week. 

"We will not hesitate to issue SCO to LGU officials who will disregard existing laws on the island of Boracay. We cannot go back to square one especially now that we are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Año said.

"Our efforts to rehabilitate and reverse the ecological degradation of the island will all be futile if we become negligent in complying with the guidelines set by National Government."

He urged both the Provincial Government of Aklan and the Municipality of Malay, Aklan, two LGUs which have direct authority over the world-famous tourist destination, to intensify efforts and strictly observe the island’s daily threshold of 19,215 for tourists.

To recall, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as chair, with DILG and Department of Tourism as co-chairs, set the carrying capacity of the island for tourists at 19,215 to ensure the ecological sustainability of Boracay.

The DILG Secretary said that "failure to comply with the recommended daily threshold may cause environmental risks and may reverse the accomplishments of government in rehabilitating Boracay Island."

In a letter sent by DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to Año, she said Boracay Island tourist arrivals for Maundy Thursday on April 14 reached 21,252 and 22,519 on Good Friday on April 15 above the island’s limit.

On April 16, Puyat likewise appealed to DILG Secretary Año and DENR Acting Secretary Jim Sampulna to instigate appropriate actions regarding the violations and urged for strict implementation of preventive measures against COVID-19 that is also a “valuable step in driving a sustainable growth of tourism in the island.”

In response, Año said in a DILG memorandum disseminated to Aklan LGUs that subsequent violations on the recommended limitation of tourists in Boracay Island may merit the issuance of an SCO from the Department, regardless if the violation is deliberate or not.

"We must draw the line to ensure that our policies are being complied with on the ground. If it is necessary to issue an SCO for violations, that is what our Department will do," Año said.  

He also disagreed with the statement of Malay Acting Mayor Frolibar Baustista calling the tourist arrivals “normal”.

“This is not normal, it is a violation of existing policy. Just in 2018 and without a pandemic, we have already determined what Boracay’s capacity is, just how many tourists the island can accept,” he added.

In the memorandum, Año also directed DILG Regional Offices to closely monitor the compliance of LGUs and to report any violations of tourism-related implementations and COVID-19 policies and protocols.

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya reminded residents and tourists of Aklan province that the area is under the Alert Level 1 status, which still entails observance of Minimum Public Health Standards.

“Once again, we remind our compatriots in Aklan to maintain compliance with the health protocols that we have set. Still wear a face mask and disinfect regularly. Let's not be careless,” Malaya said.

“We don't want a surge in our [COVID-19] cases so I encourage everyone that even if we have more freedom now and go to different places in the country, let's still maintain discipline because we haven't the pandemic is over,” he added. — Franco Luna





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