THE Philippine Government will beef up protection for foreigners on the resort island of Boracay following the high-profile rape case of ex-Hong Kong businesswoman Gillian Martin.
Aklan provincial governor Corazon L. Cabagnot said yesterday security patrols and street lighting would be increased to offset a spate of bad publicity the island had been getting.
Additionally, the Government would wage war on child prostitution, paedophilia and international drug traffickers who were using Boracay as a staging post to Europe and the US.
'We know this island is a favourite of Hong Kong people and we want to keep it that way,' the former diplomat said.
Her assurances, however, have come hot on the heels of a revelation that there have been four other attempted rapes at the idyllic white beaches of the resort island in the past two months alone, including at least one involving a foreign woman.
'The public records are full of facts of incidents,' the Governor admitted.
'We are going to set up a civilian volunteer force of guards armed with night sticks, who will patrol the island overnight,' Governor Cabagnot said.
In addition, her chief security officer, Apolonic 'Boy Bagets' Macaldo, will do a security assessment of the island, and will lecture the island's leaders on anti-drug and protection measures. He will also help to set-up an island safety committee.
'The island leadership is weak, which is why I have to step in as governor,' she said yesterday in a meeting with rape victim Ms Martin, who was in nearby Kalibo to attend the last session of the rape trial.
'I don't want sex tours and I don't want prostitutes,' the Governor said.
'I'm also going after international drug traffickers. We have already kicked out six Europeans. Boracay should be a family place.
'In addition, I want to protect the people of Boracay, the people who come from the island in the first place.' Ms Martin told Governor Cabagnot yesterday that many foreigners might be reluctant to report crimes in Boracay because it would cost too much money to come back for the resulting trials.
'I'm lucky that I lived in Hong Kong, and, now, Singapore,' she said. 'I could afford to come back and launch a private prosecution, although that has cost me US$15,000 (HK$115,000) so far.
'Somebody living in Europe or the US has to factor in additional travel costs. They might think that it's much easier not to prosecute at all, otherwise I think you would see a lot more trials involving foreigners,' she said.
The verdict will be handed down in the Aklan Regional Court in Kalibo on November 21.