Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the creation of a single body that will take over the development and management of Boracay Island similar to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Drilon said this as he also pressed for the continuation of the demolition of what he called the “mother of all the violators in Boracay”, referring to the controversial West Cove resort, in order to show government’s seriousness in reforming Boracay.
“Boracay contributes so much in the development of our country particularly in the field of tourism and yet, there is not one single body in-charge of Boracay,” the veteran legislator said in an interview after the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources’ hearing on the degradation of Boracay.
“What we would suggest is a strong administrator which can manage a place like this. It cannot be left to where it is today. All that we have now are ad-hoc solutions. We need a master plan and a master plan to be implemented by a single authority,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.
Drilon is the author of Senate Bill 1765 (An Act Creating the Boracay Island Council). The bill provides for the creation of the Boracay Island Council (BIC) composed of representatives of government agencies, local government units and the private sector which “shall take over the management, development, regulation, protection and maintenance of the island, including its coastal resources and marine biodiversity.
The committee chair Senator Cynthia Villar agreed with Drilon on the need to establish a single body to oversee Boracay.
Drilon noted that even Aklan Florencio Governor Miraflores has fully endorsed the idea, even if it will mean the reduction of the powers of the local government units.
“We need a governing authority with stronger powers and can coordinate and has the final say on all these developments that will be implemented in Boracay,” the senator said.
“We are studying as a model the Subic Bay Management Authority. It must be manned by career and professional people so it could not be a political patronage.”
He added: “We are studying as a model the Subic Bay Management Authority. It must be manned by career and professional people so it could not be a political patronage.”
In the hearing, Drilon lamented the many neglects and abuses committed by the government and private sector that led to the destruction of the country’s prime tourist destination.
“We may want to take a serious look at consolidating the authority of watching over Boracay to a centralized agency which will assume many of the powers agencies are exercising right now,” he said.
Having different agencies handling the development and rehabilitation of Boracay and expressing different views on certain matters do not help the cause, according to Drilon.
“There is simply no one managing Boracay. Marami pong cook, kusinero, iyong pagkain, lumalabas na masama ang lasa,” he said.
“A more permanent management body is what we need. We cannot do in six months what we failed to do for several decades.”
“In every issue, different agencies would handle it and have conflicting views. That doesn’t include yet the local government unit,” Drilon said.
He said the said body being proposed will be in-charge of the island’s continuing maintenance beyond the six-month closure.
“A more permanent management body is what we need. We cannot do in six months what we failed to do for several decades. We need political will,” Drilon said.
In addition, he said the demolition of West Cove resort should be finished.
“This resort must be demolished because this is the symbol of the abuses done on Boracay. To project that we are serious in the reforms that we are doing in Boracay, West Cove, which is the mother of all the violators, must be demolished,” Drilon said.
He asked the committee to subpoena Boracay West Cove resort owner Crisostomo Aquino in the next hearing, as he wondered why it was able to operate without a locational clearance, and sanitary, fire safety and business permits.
“Bakit masyadong malakas itong si Crisostomo?” Drilon wondered, as he asked the committee to subpoena Aquino in the hearing.