House approves creation of body to oversee Boracay | Inquirer News
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House approves creation of body to oversee Boracay

/ 05:02 AM November 12, 2020

SUNSET VIEWING In this photo taken in April 2019, tourists gather at the beachfront near Willy’s Rock on Boracay Island to watch the setting sun. Tourism in Boracay, one of the country’s leading destinations, has started to pick up after its six-month environmental rehabilitation in 2018 but the pandemic this year shattered hopes of the island’s businesses for full recovery. —(Photo by ROBERT JAWORSKI L. ABAÑO / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Two House panels on Tuesday approved the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (Bida) to firm up gains from the rehabilitation and sustainable development of the resort island in Malay town, Aklan province.

The committees on government enterprises and privatization and on local government approved a substitute measure to House Bill No. 6214, which will be used as the “mother bill” for the establishment of the Bida.

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Two similar measures, House Bill No. 4175 and House Bill No. 7256, were also passed and consolidated with the substitute bill, introduced by Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte and party list Representatives Eric Yap (ACT-CIS) and Sandro Gonzalez (Marino).

Ecotourism

“The purpose of the Bida is to place Boracay at the center stage. We know Boracay’s potential. If this is developed further, tourists from other nations will patronize it more,” Yap said.

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He said the substitute bill contained amendments, including an “ecotourism provision” and the creation of the Bida as a government-owned and -controlled corporation under the Office of the President, instead of being an attached agency of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.

Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. said: “We really need a big brother in Boracay. For 40 years, it was chaotic, and big people ran it, and even the President called it a cesspool.”

Haresco said his version of the Bida bill had become “moot and academic,” noting that the substitute measure was “more superior.”

Priority

President Duterte, in his State of the Nation Address in July, pushed for the creation of the Bida as a priority legislative measure in Congress. In 2018, he ordered the six-month environmental rehabilitation of Boracay, saying it had become a “cesspool” due to problems arising from uncontrolled development and overcrowding.

HB 6214 said the successful rehabilitation significantly improved the “New Boracay” and that the challenge was “how to sustain the recent efforts … in cleaning and restoring the island.”

The Bida will be tasked with crafting policies, plans, programs and projects for the rehabilitation, preservation and enhancement of Boracay while ensuring environmental management and control, preservation of ecological systems, and the prevention of ecological deterioration and pollution.

In the same hearing on Tuesday, the panels approved House Bill No. 6578 creating the Lamon Bay Development Authority for Lamon Bay, a rich fishing ground in Quezon province, and House Bill No. 2155 creating the Kapatagan Valley Development Authority in Lanao del Norte province.

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TAGS: BIDA, Boracay Island Development Authority, Boracay tourism, House of Representatives
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