Villar seeks creation of Boracay Island Dev’t Authority

Published November 27, 2020, 12:42 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Sen. Cynthia Villar is also pushing for the creation of a Boracay Island Development Authority to handle and sustain the government’s rehabilitation and development programs for the island.

Sen. Cynthia Villar (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Villar recently filed Senate Bill No. 1914 as she cited the continued degradation of the environment due to the “weak” implementation of landmark environment laws by authorities and the people’s indifference.

“The Boracay Island, which is one of the best beaches in the world and considered a world-famous jewel of Philippine tourism, was not spared from environment degradation,” the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment said in her bill.

“The apathetic concern for the environment amidst the thriving development on Boracay, along with the weak implementation of the environmental laws by authorities, eventually led to the polluted Boracay Island then,” she added.

In 2018, President Duterte called Boracay Island a “cesspool” due to poor waste and sewage management and overcrowding. He shut down the tourist destination for six months for its rehabilitation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-led Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF).

Villar said that while measures have been implemented by the government, the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) would be the long-term solutions to address the root causes of environmental degradation in the island.

She said Environment and Natural Secretary Roy Cimatu wrote to her to sponsor a bill that would create the BIDA, since the existence of BIATF will expire on May 8, 2021.

“In its two years of existence and steadfast efforts in rehabilitating Boracay Island, the BIATF has had to undo the decades of mismanagement of the island’s resources, and rampant violation of environmental laws,” Villar said.

The proposed BIDA would be tasked to “accelerate the sustainable development and balanced growth of Boracay Island.” Among others, it shall formulate and implement eco-tourism, environmental protection, and social and infrastructure development strategies and regulate the entry of people, vehicles, and supplies and material to the island.

The BIDA would be an agency attached to the Office of the President, and shall include the DENR, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Justice, Department of Health, as well as the governor of Aklan, mayor of the Malay, Aklan where Boracay is located, and two representatives from the private sector.

A general manager shall be appointed by the President.

Aside from Villar, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had also filed a similar bill proposing the creation of the BIDA.