Security drills held in Boracay ahead of Palace decision on state of calamity

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Boracay, Aklan (CNN Philippines, April 24) — Authorities, security forces, and residents are counting the days to the six-month closure of Boracay beginning this Thursday. They demonstrated their preparations, even for worst-case scenarios.

But none of the security measures or government pronouncements can ease residents' and workers' fears of economic dislocation – and for some, even emotional distress.

 

On Tuesday, authorities showed off their skills in handling sea attacks and even violent dispersals.

The Western Visayas police stressed the demonstration was part of regular security drillls and not just preparation for the island's closure to tourists. They also downplayed claims it was an overkill.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG was ready for Boracay's temporary closure.

"Dalawang barko at anim na karagdagang floating assets ang aayuda para sa seguridad at pagpapatrol sa buong isla ng Boracay at para magpatupad ng mga regulasyon na paiiralin habang ito ay sarado sa publiko simula ngayong ika-26 ng Abril," he said.

[Translation:Two ships and and six additional floating assests will help in the security and patrolling of the whole island of Boracay and to ensure regulations will be enforced while it is closed to the public beginning April 26.]

Balilo added Lt. Com. Ramil Palabrica, PCG station commander of Caticlan, said the PCG is also ready for any protester who may seek to sow discord and attempt to enter Boracay's shoreline

Earlier, Malacañang said a decision on declaring Boracay under a state of calamity would be out on April 26 – the start of the six-month closure.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recommended Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte place Boracay under a state of calamity for a year.

According to the NDRRMC, a state of calamity could be declared in the Barangays of Balabag, Manoc-Manoc, and Yapak in the town of Malay, Aklan.

An executive order or proclamation on the state of calamity will serve as legal basis for the shutdown. It is also expected to fast-track procurement as the island fixes its drainage system.

Roque said the proclamation was "just a formality" as everyone has already been informed about the closure of the island to tourists.

"Don't worry. It can be issued today, tomorrow. It's no big deal. I'm sure it's drafted already," he said.

Master plan up for review

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the master plan for Boracay's rehabilitation will be reviewed and updated during the six-month closure.

"We intend to revisit the Boracay master plan to incorporate it into a more comprehensive Northern Aklan master plan which will hasten the development of Caticlan, Malay, and Carabao island and radiate it to the nearby areas possibly including Romblon," said Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Among the efforts to be done during the closure are what Cimatu called "first aid" solutions – installing sewage and solid waste systems and demolishing illegal structures among them.

The island's tourism program would also be reviewed during the shutdown.

Saving Boracay: Timeline, what to expect

Boracay will close for clean-up and rehabilitation for up to six months, beginning April 26. The shutdown was only confirmed three weeks before the date.

CNN Philippines' Ruth Cabal, Regine Cabato, and Pia Garcia contributed to this report.