BORACAY ISLAND (via INews)–The business sector here belonging to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI-Boracay) is also supportive of the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) but recommends that the President appoint a management professional who is apolitical.
In an exclusive interview with PCCI-Boracay president Elena Brugger, she said the chamber prefers that a management and tourism professional should be at the helm of the Authority to ensure the island’s economic development as well as sustainable tourism and environment.
“The handling of the affairs and management of the island before it was declared a cesspool by the President should now be a lesson learned for all of us. It’s about time that the management be handled by professionals. It is important that the administrator-to-be understands the rough-and-tumble of business tourism because Boracay is a multi-billion dollar industry, and we cannot just leave it to individuals of questionable character and interests,” she stressed.
Brugger adds that the President’s appointment of a management and tourism professional as BIDA administrator is a move towards positive change for the island.
“Boracay is a brand so it should be protected and run by people with brilliant minds who know exactly what they are doing to ensure sustainable tourism development, as well as inspire the tourism stakeholders to take the necessary action in order to accelerate the process towards a more sustainable tourism sector by aligning policies, business operations and investments.”
She adds that “this can be done without compromising the environmental, social, and cultural viability of Boracay Island because a good administrator knows how to strike a balance between sustainable growth from the prospect of the tourism market and the side of environmental, social, and cultural aspects.”
Brugger said the management of the island needs to be a collaborative effort of business and economic development professionals with the support of the local government and the community. She underscored, though, that politicians “should only be taking the part on what they are supposed to do, not to manipulate the system, which time and again, has been the case on Boracay Island.
Contained in the letter sent to Congressman Eric Olivares, chair of the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization, PCCI-Boracay also equally shared the suggestion of the Boracay Foundation for a balanced representation to the BIDA Board.
“We suggest a board composition that includes balanced representation between the national government and the local government, with a continued clear contributing role of the latter and one that includes representatives from the business and investment sectors, including representatives from local community organizations and non-governmental organizations,” PCCI-Boracay stated while stressing, “the composition of the Board is one of the keys to the success of BIDA and having a multi-sectoral board ensures that every sector is duly represented for a more balanced decision making.”
The group said it stands in unison with the Visayas Chambers as it is pleased with the opportunity to share its views on the proposed creation of BIDA.
During its 28th Visayas Area Business Conference in Palo, Leyte on August 23, 2019, PCCI Visayas Chambers signed a joint resolution certifying the BIDA Bill Senate version introduced by Senator Franklin Drilon as “urgent” to ensure that the rehabilitation of Boracay Island is sustained.
“PCCI-Boracay supports the passage of a bill that ensures sustainable economic and ecological future through tourism for Boracay Island. Boracay business stakeholders have had extraordinary hardships that may take a generation to recover from. We like BIDA to strongly support the business sector, and we would like the business sector to support this government initiative,” it said.
CONSCIENTIOUS PASSAGE OF THE BILL
In its statement, PCCI-Boracay noted that for years, Boracay has been a favorite travel destination to many but underscored that “to the people and stakeholders on the island, it is home. One that is full of culture with a communal identity and a strong business community.
“We hope that BIDA can support and help the private sector as the key driver of Boracay’s future growth and success,” it said.
Sharing the concern earlier aired by Boracay Foundation, it noted that “important objectives such as the urgent need for lawful land title should be prioritized as Boracay stakeholders need expedited land titles and solutions.”
“Boracay Island Development Authority can help Boracay stakeholders in this regard and guide Boracay’s sustainable development in the future. So at this stage, we urge Congress to conscientiously pass the right bill for the right reasons,” it further said.
The Boracay Foundation, through its president, Edwin Raymundo, and chairman, Dionisio Salme, earlier raised the same concern as it appealed to Congress to find solutions to the land titling problem on the island stressing that for many years the parameters of legitimate claims had been a precarious endeavor among many landowners on Boracay which has been the cause of various court litigations.
“We cannot stress enough how imperative it is to facilitate the titling of land on the island,” BFI said.
“Boracay Island has always been the crown jewel of the country and it will remain so for years to come. As such we, from the BFI, share with you the hopes and aspirations of our beloved island and its people. We stand with you on the proposed creation of BIDA and look forward to an Authority that will provide not just sustainable development for the island but also better living conditions and opportunities to its people,” the BFI statement further said.
The House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization chaired by Congressman Eric Olivares and the Committee on Local Government chaired by Noel Villanueva will continue to deliberate the BIDA bills on November 11.
Among those included to be discussed are the proposed creation of the Boracay Island Council (HB 4175) introduced by Aklan 2nd District Congressman Teodorico Haresco, and the BIDA bill version (HB 7256) of 1st District Congressman Carlito Marquez.
The most prominent BIDA bill at the House right now is HB 6214 introduced by Congressman Paolo Duterte and co-authored by Representatives Eric Yap, Sandro Gonzalez, Jose Teves, and Kristine Singson-Meehan, which to date, has gotten the co-authorship of more than 170 congressmen all over the country.
Also included in the House Committee Hearing are the BIDA bill versions of Rep. Claudine Diana Bautista (HB 6285), Rep. Eric Olivarez (HB 7249), Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” F. Villafuerte (HB 7280), Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting (HB 7294), Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (HB 7313), and Rep. Jose Enrique “Joet” Garcia III (HB 7360).