Some senators doubt Boracay reopening in October

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — Halfway into the reopening of Boracay island, some senators are not convinced that authorities can meet the six-month deadline set on October 26.

During a Senate hearing on Monday, Senate Tourism Committee Chair Nancy Binay raised a concern to the inter-agency task force mandated to rehabilitate the island destination.

"Bago natin pag-usapan ang pagbubukas ng Boracay, siguro pag-usapan muna natin kung ano ba talaga yung carrying capacity ng Boracay because kung hanggang ngayon hindi natin alam kung ilan ang kaya ng isla, paano natin mapag-uusapan kung kelan bubuksan ang Boracay," Binay said.

Authorities said that by October 26, the sewerage system of the island would have been completed.

Binay, however, also raised the issue on the financial assistance for workers who were laid off during the rehabilitation, as only about ten percent of the Labor Department's assistance program has been executed since the island's closure on April 26.

The Labor Department was supposed to give P9,500 assistance per month to the informal sector and P4,200 to the formal sector for six months.

Meanwhile, the Boracay Foundation also told senators that no official from the Environment Department has talked to them despite their request for a meeting in the past two months.

Malay, Aklan Mayor Ceciron Cawaling also said everything was done in haste, as there was no clear master plan to rehabilitate Boracay and a lot of people have no jobs because hotels, restaurants and other tourism establishments have been closed and there is not much economic activity in the area.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier called the world-famous tourist destination "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if its pollution problem went unsolved.