Aklan mayor urges stranded Boracay workers to coordinate with barangays

Private individuals have been helping workers who are stranded in Boracay Island. The local government assured help in sending them back home. (Photo courtesy of Alvin “Dags” Santiago via Facebook)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista of Malay, Aklan on Wednesday encouraged stranded workers in Boracay Island to coordinate with their barangays and contact the town’s hotline if they want to return home amid the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) placed on the island.

The ECQ over the island was implemented on March 19 after Bautista issued Executive Order No. 14. The ECQ is in effect indefinitely until it is lifted.

Aklan province is also under ECQ via EO No. 20 issued by Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores.

Both measures were meant to combat the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

More than 164 workers, mostly in tourism-related services, have been jobless since the ECQ was imposed on the island.

Most of them also complained not being able to go out to buy food because they were not granted quarantine passes.

Bautista said the workers were actually given time to leave the island but he was surprised to learn that many stayed behind.

“We’ve already closed establishments before the ECQ, but others also expected that they would reopen early and that’s the problem. We didn’t know there were many of them. With the issue of the quarantine pass, of course there would only be one to be given per household,” Bautista said.

He belied claims of the workers that they were not given relief goods by the barangays saying officials were unaware that they were staying in their boarding houses.

“That’s wrong. The problem is probably because some of them worked at resort establishments or the barangay did not know that there were people from those establishments. The barangay may not also know that there were still people in the boarding houses,” he said.

Bautista said Malay will help them if they want to stay or go home.

“If they want to go home, we will help them but if they want to stay in Boracay then they should stay there and we will help them with their food. What other towns are doing, like that of Romblon, they’re sending money to their people from the [local government unit],” he said.



Bautista said that if the workers wanted assistance, they should contact the hotline of the town’s Public Employment Service Office (PESO).

He added that the workers should also encourage their families to inform the local government units (LGUs) of their hometowns of their situation so they can easily coordinate with Malay, saying that they need to make sure first that they will be accepted in their hometowns.

“What we are doing right now is that I’ve announced through radio and through Facebook that they should contact our [PESO] and give their information, where they work, where they stay, and their permanent residence so we can contact the LGU there and at the same time, I’ve also advised that their families should approach their LGUs so they can coordinate with us. They can’t just leave Boracay because if they do leave, their LGU might not receive them. So they have to make sure that their own LGUs can accept them too,” he said.

He said that they needed to inform their hometowns because there were already two LGUs – Cadiz City in Negros Occidental and Panit-an town in Capiz – that sent food packs to them because they cannot accept their residents as of the moment.

“They should call their families and tell them to approach their mayors to coordinate with us so they can leave Malay. Cadiz City and Panit-an, Capiz have sent us food packs to be distributed because they don’t want to receive their own constituents who were stranded,” Bautista said.

Niezel Anen Sabrido, Senior Labor and Employment Officer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 6, said DOLE-6 Regional Director Cyril Ticao was already informed of the situation, but the resolution of the situation was heavily dependent on the imposition of the ECQ by the Malay LGU.

“About the stranded workers of Boracay, it has already reached our Provincial Office in Aklan and our manager in Boracay, and we’re already taking considerations. But the stand of the DOLE, especially that of the Regional Director, is that they were stranded because of the ECQ implemented by the local government. The only thing that DOLE can do is to find a way that they can be enrolled in our CAMP program. As for other matters, like how they can go home to their respective families, those who are outside of their Boracay residences, we have to refer that to the LGU and that is what our Provincial Director did, refer them to the local government unit of Malay,” Sabrido said.

She said that they have worked to get stranded workers, including those from the informal sector in Boracay, to apply for their COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP) and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced (TUPAD) programs.

“We made them apply for CAMP. I think some of them are construction workers, others are working in travel and tours. What our Provincial Director did was, for those that have formal employer-employee relationships, and for those in the informal sector, they may be covered by our [TUPAD], those are who we took into consideration,” she said.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Atty. Helen Catalbas said the status of the workers is out of their hands and should be taken care of by the DOLE and the LGU.

“It’s [the] DOLE and [the LGU’s] call. They should get registered with the TUPAD/CAMP assistance program of DOLE. They may also contact their local [Department of Interior and Local Government] office if they are not given attention by their barangay,” Catalbas said.