De Lima opposes bill creating new body to run Boracay | Inquirer News
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De Lima opposes bill creating new body to run Boracay

/ 05:00 PM August 10, 2021

ILOILO CITY—Detained opposition senator, Leila de Lima, has joined calls of various sectors in Aklan against the creation of a government-owned and-controlled corporation (GOCC) that will manage Boracay Island.

In a statement posted on her Facebook page, De Lima decried the creation of a Boracay Island Development Authority (Bida) that would administer the island.

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“The proposed Bida is the latest attempt by the administration to take from Aklanons what is rightfully theirs,” De Lima said.

She cited the provisions of the bill pending in Congress, which she said would deprive the Aklan provincial government of revenues, and take over the management of the island from the local government.

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“The proposal, as it stands, gives the Bida the authority to operate and license tourism-related activities, which constitute the bulk of the income of Aklan from Boracay Island,” De Lima said.

She said the revenues are not only necessary for the operation of the provincial government, but also for the provision of services to Aklanons.

While there were “significant gains” in the rehabilitation of the island led by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, De Lima said governing the island should be left to the duly-elected local officials.

Bills filed in the House of Representatives initially provided for the creation of an inter-agency regulatory body with representatives from the private sector.

Senate Bill No. 1756 authored by Sen. Franklin Drilon provides for the creation of a regulatory council primarily for environmental conservation.

But House Bill No. 9826, which consolidated several similar bills in the lower chamber, provides for the creation of the Bida as a GOCC with corporate powers, including to “contract, lease, buy, sell, acquire, own, or dispose of… real property of whatever nature…”

The House passed the bill on second reading on Aug. 4.

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Aklan Rep. Carlito Marquez, who authored one of the original bills, has withdrawn as co-author of the consolidated bill.

Marquez, along with Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores, other provincial and municipal officials, and various private groups and individuals in Boracay are opposing the GOCC-type Bida.

The Aklan officials are protesting several provisions, especially those that grant Bida the power to issue business licenses and building permits, and to set a limit to real property taxes that the local government could collect.

“Make no mistake, this is an act of undertaking driven by people who are salivating at the prospect of using the island and its natural resources as a cash cow to satisfy their greed, rather than the betterment of residents,” De Lima said.

“Let us legislate the parameters for the proper management of Boracay Island, but let us allow the local officials to do what they are elected to do in the interest of the residents that they serve,” she said.

Boracay Island is among the top tourism revenue earners of the country generating P58.18 billion in 2019 before the island was shut down to tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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TAGS: Aklan, Boracay Island, GOCC, government–owned and -controlled corporation, Regions, Senator Leila de Lima
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