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Clarification on using portable chairs on the beach: This is prohibited.



People sat on the beach using portable chairs

BSN received a report from a bystander about an incident that occurred sometime in March where a tourist was reprimanded by uniformed personnel on White Beach. Sometime in April, we sent a letter to the Malay-Boracay Tourism Office to request for clarification. Time passed and we decided to send a letter to the Malay Auxiliary Police (MAP) in May, which said:

Subject: BEACH GUARD officers reprimanded tourist for portable folding chair on the beach 

An elderly tourist was reprimanded for sitting on a portable folding chair on White Beach, as she sat down to watch the sunset with her husband and children. The Beach Guard officers who approached and reproached her said, “Bawal po ‘yan sa beach.” When asked for the ordinance, the Beach Guard officer replied, “Hindi po naming alam basta bawal po ang mag dala ng upuan sa beach. Kung gusto ninyo malaman kung saan nakasulat, pumunta nalang kayo sa office namin.” Enforcers should have a list of beach regulations and the corresponding ordinances to better explain the rationale with the tourists.


To reiterate, the tourist in question was a senior citizen who should not have to visit any office to verify the rule. She also pointed out that her chair was completely portable and collapsible, and not a piece of furniture. It is incidents like this that make or break the Boracay tourist experience, which directly make an impact on the island’s reputation, especially with everyone watching and sharing on social media. 

 

Initially, the subject line said “MAP officers,” as we mistakenly assumed that the uniformed personnel was a MAP officer, which is why we sent the letter to the MAP office in the first place. Upon receiving our letter, MAP Chief Louie Gumboc informed us that the uniform of the person in the photo was that of a beach guard. As such, we corrected the subject line to “BEACH GUARD officers.” 

Chief Gumboc further shed light on the issue and clarified that Municipal Ordinance (MO) No. 132, s. 2000, an ordinance on tables and chairs, prohibits tables and chairs (on the beach). He also said, “Hindi nailagay doon kung anong klaseng chair” (It does not specify what kind of chairs). To this, we wondered if the ordinance was a “grey area” and open to interpretation.

When asked where to find a list of beach ordinances, he pointed at the LGU-Malay website. As of this writing the website www.malay.gov.ph could not be accessed. 


He also emphasized that the MAP and Beach Guards are two separate entities and both report directly to the Mayor’s office. As such, out of due diligence, we sent the same letter to the Mayor’s office. We received a prompt response and statement, including copies of MO No. 132, s. 2000 and MO No. 183, series of 2003, as follows:

  

Municipal Ordinance No. 183, s. 2003 Definition of “Tables and Chairs” (MO No. 183, s. 2003)



Mention of "Tables and chairs" (Municipal Ordinance No. 132, s. 2000)


In reference to your letter dated May 21, 2024 asking for clarification on the report re: Boracay Beach Guard reprimanded tourist for using portable folding chair on the beach area. Under Municipal Ordinance No. 2000-132 and Municipal Ordinance No. 183, series of 2003 (copies hereto attached), it specifically provides the regulation in using tables and chairs along white beach areas.


In this case, we believe that the area of concern fall under the above mentioned ordinances. Furthermore, pursuant to Republic Act No 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act 0f 2012 and by virtue of Proclamation No. 475 s. 2018, the Local Government Unit of Malay is still in support to the on-going rehabilitation of the Island. In order to achieve the vision for the Island’s rehabilitation, the LGU of Malay adhered to seven Key Result Areas that served as guidelines for the closure, one of this KRAs is Theme 1-Enforcement of laws and regulations.


The point of this exercise was not only to find out if portable chairs are allowed on the beach (in case we lost you in all the details, the answer is: they are not), but to remind enforcers that their interactions with the tourists have an impact on the Boracay tourist experience, and leave a lasting impression. Our valued visitors pay tons of fees just to enter the island and enjoy the beach for a few days, and we should at least have the courtesy to inform them properly of the beach ordinance they are violating, the reason behind this ordinance (so that they are able to understand its purpose), and to be well informed. 

In fairness to the beach guards that day, they were very courteous, although inviting the tourist to their office was short of a cop saying, “Come to the station with us if you want to know more.”

 

The incident does beg the question of whether the beach guards who are tasked with enforcing beach ordinances are oriented properly. We humbly suggest to equip them with a copy of the ordinances so that they can properly inform those who seek clarity on the rules.

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