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High court asked to drop petition vs Bora closure

Malacañang has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss a petition questioning the six-month closure of the world-famous Boracay Island resort.

In a 61-page comment, Malacañang, through the Office of the Solicitor General, sought the dismissal of the petition filed by three residents of Boracay seeking to nullify President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 475 that closed the resort to tourists and non-residents from April 26 to Oct. 25.

Meanwhile, Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said Monday the more than 21,000 displaced workers of Boracay could claim their six-month compensation to the nearest Labor Department regional office amounting to P4,205 a month. 

Only about 20 percent of the more than 21,000 displaced workers have claimed the assistance and livelihood program of the government, including the P4,000 in financial assistance to be given to affected workers regardless of status.

Solicitor General Jose Calida justified the legality of Boracay’s closure, saying it did not violate any provision of the 1987 Constitution.

Instead, the chief state lawyer sought the dismissal of the petition in April and a supplemental petition in June filed by Mark Anthony Zabal, Thiting Estoso Jacosalem and Odeon Bandiola for lack of merit.

He disputed the petitioners’ assertion that the Executive had no power to close down Boracay.

He said Duterte issued the closure order in the exercise of his power as chief executive under Sections 1 and 17, Article VII of the Constitution and declared Boracay under a state of calamity on the recommendation by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

“In this case, the situation in Boracay Island called for a strong and urgent measure to address the human-induced hazards that have caused the degradation of Boracay Island’s eco-system,” Calida said. 

“Evidently, Proclamation 475 is nothing more than the President’s exercise of his power of control over the executive branch of government, especially in addressing the state of calamity in Boracay Island.

“Had the President failed to act on the recommendation of the National Council to address the environmental disaster in Boracay, he would have violated his bounden duty under existing laws and the Constitution.” 

Calida also disputed the petitioners’ claim that the executive usurped legislative power in issuing the order.

In fact, Calida said, there was no conflict with Congress as the President was “merely implementing the policies laid out by the Legislative Department in various pertinent laws” like the Philippines Clean Water Act, Solid Waste Management Act and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act.

“It cannot be overemphasized therefore that the issuance of Proclamation 475 is within the ambit of the powers of the President and not contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers and the mechanisms laid out by the people through the Constitution,” Calida said.

He also said the closure order did not violate the constitutional rights to travel and due process as alleged in the petition.

He said the Charter actually allowed such restriction to travel to Boracay Island while rehabilitation measures were being undertaken.

Calida said the right to travel under Section 6, Article III of the Constitution was not absolute as it provided exceptions in cases of “national security, public safety or public health,” which applied to Boracay Island. With Vito Barcelo

Topics: Malacañang , Supreme Court , Boracay Island , President Rodrigo Duterte , Office of the Solicitor General
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