Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, the National Union of People’s Lawyers, and other progressive groups joined two petitioners from Boracay in filing a petition at the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of President Duterte’s closure of the island. The petitioners, a driver and a sandcastle-maker, are among those tourism workers who are set to be grossly affected by the government’s shutdown of the island.

“Duterte’s brash order really smacks of a dictator imposing whatever he wants to do at a whim. Not content with disregarding the livelihood of the people, does he really have to send 600 armed police and soldiers just to force the people of Boracay to submit to his will? It’s high time for the affected residents to fight back, as the issue of Boracay concerns both the people and the environment” said Clemente Bautista, spokesperson of Kalikasan.

Named respondents in the said petition for prohibition were President Rodrigo Duterte, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. The filing comes at the eve of the scheduled closure of Boracay, supposedly for rehabilitation measures.

The day before the filing of the petition, Kalikasan led a protest rally at the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) calling attention to the absence of a comprehensive and scientific rehabilitation plan and basis for the closure, displacement of workers, the proposed mega-casino project, and militarization of the island. The group has emphasized that although the rehabilitation of the island is long overdue and necessary, the people’s right to livelihood need not be sacrificed in the process.

“Rehabilitation of the critical environmental areas in the island does not equate to or require the total closure of the island and the displacing the workers and residents in the island. What the government should do is go after the erring establishments and impose a moratorium on new construction projects such as the mega-casino. In the long-term, it must establish a comprehensive rehabilitation and management plan aimed at Boracay’s ecological conservation. That plan must be crafted in full consultation with and in consideration of local residents, workers, and other stakeholders,” Bautista said. #