BORACAY–In a unanimous decision after their meeting held in Boracay Island on March 18, 2021, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) pushed for the creation of a Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) as a regulatory body, not as a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC).
“After considering the progress of the rehabilitation and the realities on the ground, this group of diverse opinions unanimously concluded that a regulatory body similar to the BIATF would best serve the needs of Boracay Island and its people,” the BIATF said in its position paper addressed to House Committee Secretary Raul G. Terso of the Committee Affairs Department.
In his opening statement prior to the virtual media press conference conducted after the BIATF Principals’ Meeting, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the Task Force is looking forward to a permanent body that will manage Boracay but will leave its fate to the legislators and to the wisdom of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
“We know that they have the best interest of Boracay in their minds and hearts,” Cimatu said. “The BIATF version of the bill envisions the BIDA as a regulatory body to ensure the environmental sustainability of the island,” he added.
The BIATF Chairperson and Co-chairpersons signed the position paper on the unnumbered House Bill (HB) as a substitution for HB 6214, 7249, 7280, 7294, and 7630, and in consolidation with HB 4175 and 7256 on the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA).
Furthermore, the BIATF’s position paper makes it clear that it is their considered opinion “that a GOCC’s proprietary functions would distract from its regulatory function to safeguard the island’s ecological integrity.”
The BIDA bill version that supports the GOCC function would allow for the declaration of the island as a “special economic and tourism zone”.
The BIATF’s position paper, however, underscored the fact that “Boracay Island is already bursting at the seams, having exceeded its carrying capacity in terms of structures and population. Thus, there is no more space for further development into an ecotourism zone.”
With the BIDA Bill still pending in both Houses of Congress, however, Cimatu and the rest of the members of the BIATF hope that the President will allow the Task Force to continue its work, which will ensure the smooth transition of management and turn-over of responsibilities to the incoming body. (DENR 6-iNEWS)