‘Scary’: Boracay community leader oppose Duterte pitch to open casinos on island

MANILA – Boracay locals object to President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to allow a casino to be built on the island, a community leader said Monday.

Nenette Aguirre-Graf, who owns a business in the tourist paradise, said Duterte’s statement was shocking to them.

“For us, it’s a bit shocking. Because after saying that he hates casino, he doesn’t like gambling, it made us all happy. But now, with this new pronouncement, it’s kinda scary because you don’t know what’s gonna happen,” she said.

Graf said Boracay residents are concerned about how the pronouncement will affect the island’s image as a family-friendly destination.

“’Cause right now, ‘di ba, we’re promoting Boracay as a family destination? It’s been like that for years. In fact, we didn’t allow go-go bars and anything that will tarnish the image of the island as a family destination.”

“We all know that what goes with the casino island or having casinos in an island–it goes with, you know, drugs, prostitution, criminality and all those things. And money laundering and many other things that [are] negative,” she said.

Graf said the best thing government can do for Boracay residents now is to vaccinate them.

“Send more vaccines to the island and open it to tourism, and I think we will be able to generate the money that they need, without resorting to opening the island to casinos. I-vaccinate niya kami and we will be okay,” she said.

Graf said not all tourism workers on the island have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The goal now is to have 1,000 vaccinated in a day. Hopefully, this week, we can inoculate more people,” she said.

Graf also backs the push to allow Boracay to have a separate quarantine classification from the rest of the Aklan province.

“Because first of all, we’re geographically separated from the mainland. We operate a resort island. We’re not a regular town,” she said.

“We’ve been asking for that separate quarantine since last year. Pero the IATF, especially the provincial IATF, reluctant sila. Parang yung ibang towns ay pwedeng hindi maging masaya, why we have to be treated differently when we all belong to the same province.”

“They have to understand that we make money for the whole province also and for the Philippines,” she stressed.

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