Budget chief: Boracay shutdown in April 'too soon'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) — Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno is not convinced the government is ready for a total shutdown of Boracay in April.

"Do it at the off-peak period and then maybe gradually. Before doing that, you have to have a plan already [that] is implementation-ready," Diokno told CNN Philippines' The Source.

When asked whether he favored a shutdown on April 26, he answered, "Maybe not, no. It's too soon... They're not ready yet."

The Budget Secretary's sentiments run contrary to a recommendation by the Departments of Interior and Local Government, Environment and Natural Resources, and Tourism.

The three departments pushed for a total closure running for six months, starting on April 26. It was set just ahead of an anticipated tourist influx for "Laboracay," when thousands of beachgoers party on the island for Labor Day.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has also recommended that the closure happen in phases, to lessen the impact of the closure on businesses.

Related: Palace: DTI recommends closure of Boracay in phases

The scramble to clean up the island destination came after President Rodrigo Duterte called it "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if its pollution problem would not be fixed.

The closure was met with concern from residents, who could stand to lose an estimated 36,000 jobs. The government has assured the Department of Labor and Employment would assist those whose livelihoods were on the line.

The Budget Department is working on an assessment of economic impact.

"We looked at the (effect on) employment...in the study," said Diokno, but he refused to reveal further details of their findings.

However, he said the economic impact of the shutdown is "not that scary."

Interior Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco Densing III earlier pegged losses in revenue between ₱18 to ₱20 billion.

Watch the full interview with Diokno here.