Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu is optimistic gains from the rehabilitation of Boracay will be sustained with the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA).
Cimatu thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for endorsing the bill, saying it would help ensure the timely and full passage of the measure being pushed by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) as chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“This is the opportune time to pass a law creating a permanent agency to sustain the gains achieved by the BIATF, which term has been extended for only one year or until April 2021,” Cimatu said, adding, “It is the tacit duty of the task force to ensure that Boracay does not backslide and slip to a state of environmental degradation especially with all the hard work, cooperation and concern shown by all stakeholders.”
During his 5th State of the Nation Address, President Duterte called on Congress to pass the BIDA measure in his desire to sustain what he called the “remarkable emergence of the island back to its former glory.”
Last June 11, the BIATF issued a resolution approving the draft BIDA bill and endorsing it to Congress.
The BIATF, in its resolution, said the creation of BIDA aims to promote and accelerate the sustainable development and balanced growth of Boracay Island, “consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance on protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment.”
Under the draft bill prepared by BIATF, BIDA is mandated to formulate policies, plans, programs and projects for the rehabilitation, preservation and enhancement of Boracay Island as a self-sustaining commercial, financial, investment and tourism center to generate employment opportunities, attract local and foreign tourists and promote productive investments.
“The BIATF version of the bill envisions the BIDA as a regulatory body to ensure the environmental sustainability of the island and where the local government unit will retain its taxing authority,” DENR Director and Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group general manager Natividad Bernardino explained.
She clarified that BIDA will not be a government-owned and controlled corporation akin to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
The 11-member BIDA Board will be chaired by the DENR Secretary, while the secretaries of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Tourism will serve as vice-chairs.
The members include the secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Health and the Department of Justice; the governor of Aklan province; the mayor of the municipality of Malay; two private sector representatives from Malay town; and the BIDA general manager to be appointed by the President.