Robredo backs Boracay folks opposing BIDA bill: 'They must be heard'

Published February 16, 2022, 1:37 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday, Feb. 16, reaffirmed her support for Boracay residents who opposed the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA), which will make the island a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) with powers to lease and sell the real property.

Vice President Leni Robredo (VPLR Media Bureau)

A signage manifesting the stakeholders’ opposition to the bill is posted at the famed Boracay beachfront.

“Hindi talaga (I’m not going to, really). Any program or policy na walang maayos na konsultasyon, hindi natin pipirmahan kung tayo ang pangulo (without proper consultation will not be signed if I am the president),” Robredo told reporters during her visit to the Ati community in Malay, Aklan.

The Vice President, who is pushing for a people-centered and participatory form of government, stressed the importance of listening to the stakeholders despite Boracay not having a large voting population.

“Pag issue na hindi pinapakinggan ‘yung mga tao, hindi naman nagma-matter kung ilan sila, o marami sila. Ito more than beyond ito sa issue ng kampanya (If the issue is about the people not being heard, it doesn’t matter how many they are. This is more than beyond the issue of the campaign),” she said.

“Nagkakaisa sila sa pagkontra. The least na pwedeng gawin natin, pakinggan sila (They are one in opposing it. The least we can do is listen to them),” Robredo, who once marched with Sumilao farmers to fight for their farmlands, added.

She expressed concern that the grievances of the residents and stakeholders in Boracay are not being heard and that the bill will pass without giving them a chance to voice out their opposition.

The residents and stakeholders are the ones who know the problem in the island, Robredo noted, stressing that it isn’t right not to give them a voice about it.

The aspiring president already discussed such concerns with the stakeholders. She said they oppose the creation of the BIDA under the GOCC and prefer for it to be more “regulatory.”

READ: House panel OKs creation of ‘investment-driven’ Boracay dev’t authority

The stakeholders also pointed out the “tenets of decentralization” under the Local Government Code and how the local government unit (LGU) should be the one to address the issues there.

The BIDA “is supposed to manage, develop, operate, preserve, and rehabilitate Boracay Island,” but it will also have the power “to contract, lease, buy, sell, acquire, own, or dispose real property of whatever nature.”

Among their concerns is the alleged entrance of casinos in the island, as well as the P1-billion appropriation proposal, which stakeholders said would be better used to address issues in the island instead of for the operation of the regulatory body.

Meanwhile, Robredo applauded the Ati community for having a consultative mechanism, which was at the core of their decision to support her candidacy.

“Sana ‘yung lahat ng komunidad nabibigyan ng pagkakataon ‘yung mga tao na makilala kung sino ‘yung mga kandidato at nagdedesisyon sila base sa katotohanan (I hope all communities can be given a chance to know the candidates and they can decide based on truth),” she said.

She shared that this is the first time she has been back to Boracay after her husband, former Interior secretary Jesse Robredo, died in 2012.

The beloved former Naga City mayor visited the same community before his death and shared his frustrations with his wife about how the community was being forced out of their own lands.

Robredo said she’s happy to see they have now been granted 2.1 hectares of land, and that they can sleep at night knowing their land is not going to be taken away from them.