By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday renewed his push for the creation of a body that would operate, administer, manage, and develop Boracay Island.
Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 17, the bill seeking to establish the Boracay Development Authority, which comes at the heels of the Duterte administration’s approval of the P25-billion Boracay Medium-Term Action Plan last Monday night.
“The approval of the Boracay Medium-Term Action Plan is a significant development in our desire to restore Boracay as the most beautiful island in Asia,” Drilon said.
The minority chief said approval of the action plan necessitates the immediate creation of Boracay Development Authority, saying that it is important to have an agency that can take over the management, development, regulation, protection, and maintenance of the island, including its coastal and marine biodiversity.
Drilon said it is apparent that the country’s top tourist destination suffered from the current system in place, leading to its degradation, compelling the Duterte administration to close down Boracay for six months rehabilitation.
The island reopened in October 2018 with a new set of rules that restricts certain activities to maintain its reputation as a tourist gem. Drilon noted the significant improvements after the six-month closure of Boracay Island.
Under Senate Bill No. 17, the proposed BDA will have its own Board of Directors composed of 15 members: one representative each from the Province of Aklan, the Municipality of Malay, and the three barangays comprising the island of Boracay, four representatives from the national government, three representatives for the business and investment sectors, and three representatives from local community organizations and/or non-government organizations.
The agency would be authorized to formulate and implement short and long-term plans, issue permits, order the closure or suspension of development or construction, or the cessation of operations of any going concern that are detrimental to Boracay Island.
The proposed body would also be tasked to adopt and implement measures and standards for environmental pollution control, and construct, acquire, own, lease, operate, and maintain on its own or through partnership with the private sector the required infrastructure necessary in Boracay.
“We have made great strides in getting Boracay back on its feet. With the recent restoration efforts, it has been shown that restoring Boracay to its old pristine glory is not impossible,” he added.
Drilon said creating the BDA would help ensure that the island will continue to exist with a functioning ecosystem, under a workable plan for sustainable development.
“Boracay is a treasure not just of one municipality, province or region. It is a national treasure, the protection of which should be a national concern,” he stressed.