BACOLOD

Villar pushes Bida for Boracay Island

CITING the combined weak implementation of environmental laws and indifference to them by the people, Senator Cynthia A. Villar pushes for the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (Bida) to sustain its rehabilitation done by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

In filing Senate No. 1914 or an “Act Creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (Bida),” Villar noted that despite the existence of landmark laws such as Republic Act (RA) No. 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act” and RA No. 9275 or the “Philippine Clean Water Act,” the environment continues to gravely suffer from degradation.

“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 environmental degradation,” said Villar as she sought the approval of her proposed measure.

“Through the years, Boracay Island gained popularity and became a top tourism destination in the Philippines, thereby ushering in developments, such as hotels, restaurants, bars and rental houses that were built over the island to provide accommodation to the ever-growing number of tourists,” said Villar.

The exponentially increasing number of tourists became unsustainable and breached the island’s carrying capacity, Villar stressed.

“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 said.

In 2018, there were several news reports exposing the environmental problems besetting Boracay Island, particularly the improper solid waste management and deficient sewerage system.

Due to the sorry state of the island’s sewerage system, President Rodrigo Duterte said “Boracay is a cesspool.”

The persistent environmental degradation of Boracay prompted the President to issue Proclamation No. 475 on April 26, 2018, declaring a temporary closure of the island as a tourist destination for six months so that it would be rehabilitated.

The President also issued Executive Order No. 53 creating the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) to ensure the rehabilitation and ecological sustainability of Boracay.

For the long term sustainability and rehabilitation done on the island, the BIATF proposed the creation of BIDA, attached to the Office of the President. It will promote and accelerate the sustainable development and balanced growth of Boracay Island.

The composition of Bida will include representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, Department of Justice, Aklan Governor, Malay mayor, all ex-officio members, a general manager to be appointed by the President and two representatives from the private sector.

Villar earlier received a letter from DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu requesting her to sponsor the BIATF’s draft bill on the creation of Bida.

Cimatu said the creation of Bida is seen to be a long-term solution to address the root causes of environmental degradation on the island as 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. (PR)


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