Police again block mission volunteers from entering Boracay
MANILA, Philippines – At least 16 individuals from humanitarian mission groups were barred from entering Boracay Island for their mission on Saturday, July 28.
Rise Up Aklan provincial coordinator Kim-Sin Tugna criticized the Boracay security committee for its "double standards" after the volunteers from We are Boracay, Rise Up Aklan, and Friends of Boracay were not allowed again to enter the island.
"We cannot understand this move of [the] Boracay security committee to discriminate individuals who want to help the residents and workers in Boracay," Tugna said.
He said they secured clearance from Malay town mayor Ceciron Cawaling on July 24 to distribute 700 rice packs to Boracay residents affected by the 6-month shutdown and ongoing rehabilitation.
But they were surprised that volunteers of We Are Boracay and Friends of Boracay as well as Iloilo Science and Technology University students and teachers were barred from entering Tabon Port in Caticlan, Malay on Saturday for their one-day humanitarian mission in Boracay Island.
"We are calling the attention of LGU Malay and the provincial government of Aklan [on] why this is happening to us? We are helping the Boracay people and yet the volunteers of our humanitarian mission are discriminated without clear reasons. Dahil ba kritikal kami sa mga isinusulong na programa ng gobyerno? (Is this because we are critical of the government's programs?)" he added.
In a statement, We Are Boracay coordinator Olive Abanera expressed disappointment over what they call the "sabotage and isolation campaign" of their efforts to assist Boracay residents.
In June, volunteers of We Are Boracay were also barred from entering the island and delivering food supplies to displaced workers.
Tugna deplored the "militarization" and the presence of more than 600 policemen patrolling the entry and exit points of Boracay Island.
"Suportado namin ang rehabilitasyon as long as hindi maantala ang kabuhayan ng mga residente at workers sa isla. Itong mga pulis nag-house-to-house sa mga liders at partners namin sa Boracay na huwag suportahan ang We are Boracay at Friends of Boracay. Dahil ba sa security concerns?" he stressed. (READ: For residents, uncertainty looms over Boracay relocation plan)
(We support the rehabilitation as long as it does not interrupt the livelihood of residents and workers in the island. The police conducted house-to-house visits to tell our leaders and partners in Boracay not to support We are Boracay and Friends of Boracay. Is this because of security concerns?)
The latest security protocol requires non-residents and unregistered workers to submit a letter of request to the Boracay security committee at least 3 days prior to the requested entry, and to specify the purpose, activities, date of entry and exit, venue, names, and contact numbers of the people involved.
In his reply on July 27, Department of the Interior and Local Government Western Visayas Regional Director Anthony Nuyda said Tugna's request failed to specify the exact venue of the distribution of food relief assistance. He also said there were inconsistencies on the dates of the humanitarian mission.
He advised Tugna to encourage his members who are residents of the island to get the relief goods from mainland Malay and distribute them to intended beneficiaries.
Security protocol also requires for social welfare, outreach programs, and other charitable activities to be referred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for recommendation.
Volunteers of the humanitarian mission will hold a vigil at Tabon Port with their bags of rice for the displaced residents. – Rappler.com