MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to attend two public engagements during his visit to Boracay on March 12, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed that Duterte will be pushing through with his Boracay trip to distribute land certificates to beneficiaries there.
He, however, said Duterte will not have time to “go around” the island since he has a second event lined up on the same day.
On Monday night, Duterte said he is willing to visit Boracay to promote local tourism amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) threat.
“Yes, kasi wala nang tao (Yes, [I’m going] because there are barely any tourists there),” Duterte said in a press briefing after a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
He noted that he has never been to Boracay, and wanted to have “something to look at”.
“If you look at the open sea, it’s endless. Mabubulag ka (You’ll be blinded),” the President said.
He reiterated his promise to give Boracay back to its original settlers.
“I gave it to the natives. Sabi ko, ‘Ubusin mo. Ubusin mo. Ang Boracay sa mga natives. Ibigay mo sa kanila, kasi lupa nila ‘yan’ (I told them, ‘Finish it, finish it. Boracay belongs to the natives. Give it to them because that land is theirs),” he said.
Boracay’s arrivals suffered from the various travel bans imposed by the government to contain the coronavirus which has so far affected over 100 countries and territories.
On the island, the occupancy rate is 40 percent down, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
On Oct. 26 2018, the Philippines reopened Boracay to tourists after a six-month intensive rehabilitation to rid the beach of pollution and to fix its unregulated sewage system that has contributed to the island’s “cesspool” state in the past.
Despite the “no-touch” policy imposed by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Duterte and the first family, Panelo said the President will continue to shake hands with Cabinet official, dignitaries, and others during public engagements.
“Even if you limit him, he doesn’t want to be limited,” he said. (PNA)