'Napakapabaya': Tourism chief scolds Boracay town mayor over halloween party

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Boracay (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) — Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat reprimanded the mayor overseeing Boracay island where a party took place in violation of the health and safety protocols amid the pandemic.

She called the mayor reckless and said the fines slapped against the event organizers were too low.

"Sinabihan na namin si mayor, 'Bakit ganyan?'" Romulo-Puyat told CNN Philippines' News.PH. "Napakapabaya talaga eh."

[Translation: We told the mayor, 'why did this happen?' He was really reckless.]

The Tourism Department is co-vice chair of the Boracay IATF.

Malay town Mayor Floribar Bautista earlier said local authorities are already probing the incident where several party guests in a private resort were seen in a video mingling without face masks or shields and were not observing physical distancing. 

He said one of the organizers was fined with P5,000 while the search is still on for his associate. However, Puyat noted that the penalty was measly.

"Parang nakakalimutan na ata ni mayor na may COVID at dapat [It seems the mayor has forgotten that there is still COVID-19 and] we have to be strict in implementing (minimum health standards)," said the secretary.

Puyat said Bautista previously vowed that drinking sessions will be prohibited in the island.

Last month, Boracay reopened with a limited capacity to visitors in a bid to boost the recovery of local tourism. The popular travel destination has kept its COVID-19 cases at zero since opening its doors. Puyat stressed that this record must be maintained to prevent an outbreak and a possible closure of the island which will also cost people's jobs and livelihood.