BORACAY ISLAND—A measure creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) that will further sustain the efforts of the national government in cleaning and restoring this island has been finally filed in Congress.
Introduced on Feb. 5, 2020 as House Bill No. 6214 otherwise known as “An Act Creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA)”, the measure was authored by Congressman Paolo Duterte of the 1st District of Davao City, and co-authored by Representatives Eric Yap (ACT-CIS) and Sandro Gonzalez (Marino). It is currently being taken up by the Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization.
A similar bill was filed in the Senate last year by Senator Franklin Drilon and is currently being taken up in the Senate’s Committee level.
In introducing BIDA, the proponents cited the rehabilitation process the island undertook “to restore it to its former glory as best haven for tourists from around the world” but underscored that “the challenge at present is how to sustain the recent efforts of the administration in cleaning and restoring the island.”
It said that BIDA shall be in charge in formulating policies, plans, programs, and projects for the rehabilitation, preservation, and enhancement of Boracay ensuring adequate provisions for environmental management and control. It also aims to promote the preservation of the equality of human life and ecological systems, and the prevention of undue ecological disturbances, deterioration and pollution.
The island is currently on the spot due to the questionable Public-Private Partnership contract between the Municipality of Malay and ECOS Sanitary Landfill and Waste Management Corporation (ECOS) on the hauling of solid waste and the management and operation of Malay sanitary landfill.
The contract, now the subject of a case filed with the Ombudsman, protested the “anomalous” transactions which has threatened the environment of Malay and health of its people including the tourists coming to Boracay due to various violations of environmental laws.
Lately, students and teachers of Manoc-manoc Elementary School took the brunt of the garbage problem when the school suspended its classes after a toxic stench caused dizziness and vomiting at the school site. Reports also said that some students fainted from the stench leaking from the site of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Brgy. Manoc-manoc.
Relatedly, reports of mismanagement at the town’s Sanitary Landfill had reached the Environment Department including the alleged contamination of the Malay River which has alarmed the residents along the river prompting them to raise the issue on line.
FAILURE OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
In the Senate, Senator Drilon emphasized that the urgent creation of BIDA is needed to put things in order on the island.
“Being from the region, I will say it bluntly that Boracay is a picture of a failure of government. To be more specific, failure of local governance,” Drilon, an Ilonggo senator, said.
He said all the problems and abuses on the island right now can be traced to the failure of the local governance.
“Boracay is a showcase of what local governance should not be. The environment has been abused. Everything has been abused,” he said as he pushes for BIDA to “regulate the use of the island and its resources and at the same time work on the much-needed management and development of this national treasure”.
The House version, for its parts, stated that BIDA shall promote and encourage the involvement of all sectors of society and maximize people’s participation in natural resource management, conservation and protection. “BIDA shall be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities and to attract and promote productive local and foreign investments taking into account the protection and preservation of the natural resources and biovidersity of the Boracay island,” it said.
BIDA, under this version, shall be an attached Authority under the DENR to be headed by an administrator to be appointed by the President. The DENR secretary shall serve as its chairman, and the NEDA secretary, as its vice chairman. The other board of directors shall be composed of representatives from the DOT, DOST, DPWH, DOTR, the Province of Aklan and the Municipality of Malay.