The Supreme Court has affirmed the legality of the six-month closure of Boracay Island last year.
Voting 11-2, the SC resolved to dismiss the petition filed by three residents in the world-renowned tourist destination seeking to void President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 475, which closed Boracay to tourists and non-residents for rehabilitation from April 26 to Oct. 25 last year, an insider revealed.
The high court opted to rule on the merits of the petition and declare Proclamation No. 475 as constitutional despite the period of the assailed proclamation already lapsed, which could have made the case moot and academic.
The source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak for the Court, said the Court dismissed the petition in April and supplemental petition filed in June last year by three Boracay residents—Mark Anthony Zabal, Thiting Estoso Jacosalem and Odeon Bandiola— for lack of merit.
The SC sustained the arguments of the Solicitor General that Proclamation No. 475 did not violate any provision of the 1987 Constitution as he rebutted the claims of petitioners that it violated the separation of powers as well as the rights to travel and due process.
The source said the SC agreed with Solicitor General Jose Calida that the President issued the closure order in exercise of his power as chief executive under Sections 1 and 17, Article VII of the Constitution and declared Boracay under state of calamity upon recommendation by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The tribunal also affirmed Calida’s argument that the right to travel under Section 6, Article III of the Constitution is not absolute as it provides exceptions in cases of “national security, public safety or public health,” which apply to Boracay Island.
It rejected the allegation of petitioners that the executive branch overstepped on the power of Congress in issuing the assailed order and that he had no authority to exercise to close down the island based on its supposed police power.