Fisherfolk, environmentalists trooped DENR to protest Boracay closure, construction of casino
Manila, Philippines – Two days before the 6-month closure of Boracay, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) and environmental activist KALIKASAN People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) staged a joint picket at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to oppose the total closure and the impending construction of a 23-hectare casino in the country’s top tourist island.
President Rodrigo Duterte slammed Boracay as a “cesspool” and ordered its temporary closure to pave way for rehabilitation. But the order of rehabilitation comes into conflict with the reports that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) had approved the construction of a $500-million integrated casino-resort proposed by Macau-based casino giant Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. together with its local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp. (LRWC).
“It is clear that the rehabilitation effort of Duterte is only a vehicle for clearing small businesses and opening Boracay to big-time developers that will intensify the exploitation of the island. We will oppose this grand sellout and corporate takeover of our natural resources at all cost,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Aside from the Macau-type casino-resort, a certain DoubleDragon Properties Corp. has expressed its interest to build the country’s largest hotel by room count dubbed as the Hotel101 Resorts in Boracay.
Data shows that tourist industry in the island employs at least 19, 000 from formal sectors including workers of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and transport providers; while 17, 000 are from informal sector such as masseurs, tattoo artists, vendors by the beach, among others.
The fisherfolk group raised concern on thousands of workers and residents that will be affected by the government’s so-called rehabilitation.
“6-month of total closure equates to half a year of starvation among the thousands of workers and residents of Boracay. Yet the government does not mention anything about the fate of these people who stand to be displaced by the crackdown,”
“We reiterate our position that granting the rehabilitation of Boracay is very urgent, but it should not be used as an entry point to transform the island into money-making and gambling island at the expense of our patrimonial rights,” ended Hicap. ###