P2-B aid for workers hit by Boracay closure

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Mr Duterte late Wednesday ordered the closure of Boracay for six months from April 26 in a bid to rescue from ruin a once idyllic island that drew 2 million tourists and generated over a billion dollars in revenue past year.

The threat of closure first emerged in February when Duterte blasted the tiny island's 500 tourism-related hotels, restaurants and other businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage directly into the sea.

Frederick Alegre, a secretary from the country's tourism department, said his department is still calculating the financial cost of the closure, but stressed it was "being done to sustain and save Boracay".

Boracay is a top destination for local and foreign tourists and attracted almost two million visitors and over a billion dollars in revenue in 2017, Reuters reported. "All establishments, whether compliant or not, will be closed", Teo told ANC news channel.

Tourists pose for photos along a beach on Boracay island.

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"We are a bit depressed right now", he said. "They really need to find ways to be employed, or at least keep their head above water for the next six months".

"That's why it is not to the interest of everybody to go the full six months", he told reporters.

Domestic airlines were offering customers full refunds or flights elsewhere, but said they would still operate a limited number of flights to Boracay's gateways, Caticlan and Kalibo, to serve residents.

Boracay is one of 7,300 islands in the archipelago nation and hosts 1,800 businesses, including global hotel chains like Shangri-La and Movenpick, and locally listed companies Megaworld Corp and Manila Water.

Densing also said that while the cleanup is ongoing, charges are also being readied against local government officials and even some private owners for possible violation of different environmental laws, among others. "We fully support the government's intention to make Boracay fully safe and environmentally friendly".

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"The tour guides have already complained that they have no more guests".

Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and AirAsia Philippines said they would scale down services to the two airports from April 26 to October 25, and add more to other popular beach and dive destinations, including Cebu, Palawan and Bohol. "He will not let any resort owner benefit from any sort of a calamity fund", Roque said. But the influx of tourists and corruption among local officials, which has allowed commercial establishments to blatantly disregard environmental and zoning laws, have threatened to turn Boracay into a "dead island" in less than a decade, a government study found.

"We will highlight this Boracay issue during the labor day celebration on May 1", he said, adding the labor sector will underscore whether there are really concrete measures taken by the government with regards to its pronouncement on providing livelihood to displaced workers.

Duterte was furious about sewage problems stemming from inadequate treatment systems and unrestrained development of businesses, which in many cases were operating without permits.

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