Is there an impending crackdown on foreigners in Aklan/Boracay? According to a report in the Panay News, such a clampdown on undocumented aliens in Aklan province could be imminent. Aklan is home to the world famous white sand beaches of Boracay, recently noted by Philippine President Duterte as a “cesspool.”
Blaming the foreigners
However, according to Aklan provincial council member Nemesio Neron foreigners in the province must follow local laws to protect the interest of the province’s residents. Neron is an officer in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), Provincial Council Board.
SP’s are the legislative branch of the provinces. Along with the provincial governor, the executive branch of the province, they form the province’s government.[i]
“Foreigners in Aklan should adhere to our laws, secure proper work permits, pay taxes, and respect the local customs,” said Neron.
With all due respect, that statement should apply to all residents of the Philippines, whether Filipino or foreigner. Are foreigners being put on the sacrificial altar for all of Boracay’s ills?
Resolution targets foreigners
Earlier this month, Neron filed a resolution seeking a legislative inquiry on undocumented foreigners staying and doing business in the province. Specifically targeted was Boracay.
Boracay Island in Aklan, the country’s top tourist destination, has fallen victim to overdevelopment and greed. The island is a prime example of development without planning.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to conduct a necessary “cleansing” of the island.
Duterte warned that if environmental problems in Boracay were not resolved in six months, he would shut down all businesses there.
Rest assured, Duterte will follow through on his word.
Obey the law
Now I’m certainly not supporting any foreigner or expat that’s openly breaking the law by staying in the Philippines illegally. In addition, securing proper work permits and paying taxes should be should be the norm for any foreigner in the Philippines.
That said, while foreigners are certainly contributing to the problem, corrupt local officials taking payoffs to issue fake permits for businesses exacerbate the problem.
In fact, Duterte said he would order the arrest of local government officials and resort owners of Boracay if they refuse to cooperate in Boracay’s rehabilitation.
The President has also threatened to charge with “serious neglect of duty” local officials in Boracay for allowing the world-famous tourist destination to be a pit of human waste.
“I will charge you for serious neglect of duty, making Boracay a fishpond or a sewer pool,” Duterte said. [ii]
Crackdown on Foreigners in Aklan/Boracay?
Neron has received reports that foreigners are staying in the province without proper documentation from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Department of Labor and Employment.
No official statistics on the number of undocumented aliens in Aklan has been released yet, but Neron earlier estimated there are 2,000.
“We have gathered this number coming from our intelligence community. Some were overstaying aliens,” Neron earlier told Panay News.
He added, “We are validating the figures from concerned agencies.”
Some foreigners in this capital town and in Boracay are engaged in business as tour operators, establishment owners, entertainers, tour guides, and tour commissioners.
Under the Philippine law, foreigners doing business in the country must obtain a working visa and required business permits.
They must also observe the authorized period of stay in the country to avoid penalties, like deportation.
Again, all foreigners no matter where they may reside in the Philippines should follow the law. Nevertheless, the problems in Boracay won’t be solved by only cracking down on erring foreigners.
[i] “Sangguniang Panlalawigan” retrieved from Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangguniang_Panlalawigan
[ii] Nestor Corrales (2018, February 12) “Duterte slams local officials for ‘serious neglect’ of Boracay.” Retrieved from Inquirer.net