Sen. Nancy S. Binay on Thursday proposed an inventory of all island destinations in the country to ensure they are ready to accept a big number of tourists before encouraging the latter to visit them.
In a news forum at the Senate, Binay said that, since tourism plans are already devolved to local government units, the national government should be ready to help them craft the needed plans or provide the needed facilities and infrastructure.
“Na-devolve na sa local government unit ang tourism plan. Meron ba silang development plan? Kung wala, baka pwedeng pumasok ang national agency. Kung kulang din ’yung waste-water treatment facility, baka pwede ring tulungan sila ng national government [The tourism plan has already devolved to the local government unit. Do they have a development plan? If they don’t have any, the national agency can help them. And if they lack waste-water treatment facilities, perhaps the national government could assist them],” she said.
The senator made the proposal amid plans by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to temporarily close Boracay to tourists to fix its worsening environmental woes.
In the meantime, the DOT will ask tourists to go to other destinations, such as Siargao, Camiguin, and Palawan.
“Kaya nga medyo kinukwestyon ko rin ang ginagawa ng DOT. Sinasabi na isasara ang Boracay, tapos ine-encourage nila na pumunta sa ibang isla. So baka naman lumilipat lang tayo ng problema. Baka ’yung ibang island, wala rin silang kakayahan to accept a big number of tourists, like Panglao na may problema rin sa STP [sewage-treatment plant]. El Nido parang meron na ring problema [That’s why I’m questioning what the DOT is doing. It is proposing the closure of Boracay but at the same time, it is encouraging tourists to go to other islands. So maybe we’re only diverting the problem. Maybe the other islands have no capacity to accept a big number of tourists, like Panglao, which has a problem with its STP. I think, El Nido, also has a problem],” Binay said.
She added she would file a resolution seeking the inventory of island destinations next week.
Binay further said that she is not in favor of the temporary closure of Boracay, whether for 60 days or six months, as it would adversely affect the island’s 17,000 workers.
What she supports, she said, is the proposal to close establishments found violating the laws.
She also urged establishment owners to police their own ranks and suggested that the number of tourists coming to Boracay be limited and be given a seminar before they land on the island.