No TRO yet vs. Boracay closure: SC


MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday said it has not issued any temporary restraining order to stop the closure of Boracay.

SC spokesperson Theodore Te made the clarification a day after residents and workers in the island filed a petition asking the high court to halt such move.

In a special session, the SC justices decided to require the executive branch to file its comment to the petition filed by three residents in the world-renowned island seeking issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) or status quo ante order (SQA) against the implementation of the closure order.

The respondents -Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año – were given 10 days from receipt of notice to comply with the order.

In a 29-page petition for prohibition and mandamus, Mark Anthony Zabal and Thiting Jacosalem, represented by lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen, of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) Panay chapter, asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order or status quo ante order against the implementation of the closure order.

According to the petition, Zabal earns a living by making sand castles for tourists in the beaches of Boracay while Jacosalem works as a driver for tourists and workers in the island.

Also among the petitioners is Odon Bandiola, a resident of Aklan, who travels to Boracay for business and pleasure.

They questioned the authority of President Rodrigo Duterte to order the closure of the island to tourists and non-residents and accused him of violating constitutional rights to travel and due process.

The petitioners alleged that the order violated the separation of powers under the 1987 Constitution since the executive branch has no authority to close down the island based on its supposed police power.

The President ordered the closure of Boracay after citing the island’s degradation due to irresponsible businesses.

He said the island has become a “cesspool,” noting the current situation of its sewerage system.

Boracay, which in 2016 registered more than two million tourists, was closed for business for up to six months beginning Thursday.

Authorities said the government is allocating some PHP2 billion to aid affected workers, placed at a little over 17,000 for registered workers alone.