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Duterte earmarks P2-billion for Boracay under state of calamity, junks casino

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said he would place Boracay Island under a state of calamity to release P2 billion in calamity funds for workers and residents hurt by the six-month closure, adding he would not also allow any casino to be built in the world-famous beach resort despite the approval from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

“I’m going to sign the proclamation on calamity and we can make P2 billion in assistance but these are for the poor Filipinos. I will not spend for those hotel owners, and those with beautiful houses. Do not expect me to spend anything there,” Duterte told reporters before leaving for China.

The President said that the six-month closure would affect 80 percent of the livelihood of the residents, and it would only be proper to put the island under a state of calamity as a result of  a human-induced hazard.

He also cited a law, saying Boracay has been declared as an agricultural and forestal area and therefore needs to be under land reform.

“The law says it is forestal, agricultural. Why would I deviate from that? Do I have a good reason?” he said.

The entire island of Boracay will be a land reform area and will be given to farmers once the six-month rehabilitation of the area is done, Duterte said.

“You want to know now? I’m going to give the announcement. It’s going to be a land reform area for the Filipino,” he said.

“Master plan? I have no master plan. I will clean it up because it is agricultural. So maybe after that, I’ll give it to the farmers, put it under land reform,” he said.

Despite Pagcor’s approval of a provisional license for a $500-million casino resort on the island, Duterte said he would not allow even a nipa hut to be built on the popular beach resort.

He said he would consider allowing a floating casino, however.

Duterte repeatedly said that no casinos nor any other businesses will be built on Boracay while it is closed for cleaning.

“Why will I allow a casino to be built there? What will Filipinos gain from that? I will issue a proclamation that all the land is agricultural,” he said.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, meanwhile, warned establishments in Boracay against terminating their employees during the six-month closure of the resort island starting April 26.

In an advisory, Bello said the “temporary suspension of business operations should not and must not result in the termination or separation of any employee.”

While saying the closure of Boracay as ordered by the President will necessarily compel the temporary suspension of business operations, Bello said employers may only observe the principle of “No work, no pay.”

The Labor chief also said that employers may require their employees to go on leave by utilizing their leave credits.

“Employees are expected to be recalled back to work upon the lifting of the temporary closure of Boracay Island,” he said.

‘‘The labor advisory is for ‘strict observance and compliance’,” the Labor chief said.

Bello earlier said the department will extend assistance to affected workers on the island, including the provision of emergency employment . 

He said some 5,000 informal sector workers and members of the indigenous community on the island will be employed in the clean-up of the area.

However, according to the municipality of Malay’s estimates, there are 17,328 registered local and foreign workers, while unregistered workers are estimated to be over 11,000.

Almost 30,000 people will lose their jobs once the whole island is closed for a total rehabilitation as ordered by the President.

The DoLE has set aside an initial P60 million for the emergency employment assistance.

Under the emergency employment program, worker-beneficiaries will get the prevailing minimum wage rate in the region, as well as social security benefits.

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Boracay Island , calamity funds , Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. ,
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