By Joyce Ann Rocamora
MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is investigating a recent party in Boracay over violations of quarantine protocols, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Wednesday.
The “full moon party” was held from the night of October 31 until the morning of November 1 at a venue in Sitio Cagban, Barangay Manoc-manoc.
As it castigated the “irresponsible” gathering, the DOT also called for the erring establishment’s closure in view of its lack of business permit and necessary clearances.
“The DOT, as co-vice chair of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) slams the irresponsible mass gathering at the Casa de Arte, Sitio Cagban, Barangay Manoc-Mano in Boracay recently,” it said.
In a video sent by the Tourism chief to the Philippine News Agency, partygoers can be seen visibly violating the Covid-19 quarantine measures, such as physical distancing and mandatory wearing of face mask, which were put in place when the island was reopened to tourists in October.
“Nakita namin based on the videos nakikipag-inuman, hubad hubad, nakikipag-halikan sa Boracay… Diba ‘pag-MGCQ, una two bottles ‘yan? (We saw based on the video that the guests were drinking, half-naked, kissing in Boracay. In MGCQ areas, only two bottles are allowed),” she told reporters in an interview.
The organizer was reportedly fined PHP5,000 for the event.
Romulo-Puyat said she is flying to Boracay on December 2 to discuss the incident with the local government officials.
“We are appealing to our LGUs to please cooperate with us in the safe and responsible reopening of our tourist destinations. The jobs and livelihoods that were recently restored in these sites will be affected once again if an outbreak occurs in the area due to the LGU’s negligence,” she said. “We urge our LGUs to please take our health and safety protocols seriously.”
From June to September 2020, Boracay only accepted visitors from Western Visayas to closely monitor tourism activity in the area amid the pandemic. It officially reopened to local tourists, including those from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), last October.
At the time of the reopening, Romulo-Puyat’s main message to travelers was to “be responsible”.
She said travelers can never be too complacent, even on vacation, and must adhere to the minimum health protocols.
“We want to restart tourism but there’s still Covid, that’s why we have these reminders– observe physical distancing and wear a mask,” she said. (PNA)