Stakeholders support the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista of Malay town, which hosts the world-renowned Boracay Island, said he welcomes the proposal since it is for the development of the island.
“As long as there is no encroachment in the function of the LGU (local government unit), then there is no problem,” he said in a phone interview.
Natividad Bernardino, general manager of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG), said the pronouncement of President Duterte is good news for them.
She said BIDA is the proposal of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF). The task force as an ad hoc body was given an extension until May 2021.
BIARMG is the management office of the BIATF based in Boracay supervising the day-to-day implementation of rehabilitation projects and activities of the BIATF.
Bautista said a draft of the bill was presented to them by the task force last month and they suggested some amendments, which were also considered.
Those that were deleted concerned the encroachment on the function of the LGU, he said.
BIDA, as a whole, could help a lot, especially when there are projects that need bigger financial exposure because they will be infusing more funds, he added.
“It is good because their budget is included in the General Appropriations Act, so it is a big support to the development of the island. The LGU has limited resources,” he said, adding that they just rely on tourism.
“BIDA once it becomes a law will be the permanent body that will oversee and ensure the sustainability of all the rehabilitation efforts that we’ve started in Boracay,” Bernardino said.
The creation of the BIDA was discussed by the task force but it was only early this year that it was able to prepare its version of the bill that will serve as the official draft.
She said the draft might have been endorsed to Congress since the resolution endorsing the paper was already signed when the task force met in Boracay in June.
Bernardino said they are hopeful that BIDA will be signed into law before the term of the task force ends next year and the works will be properly turned over to them.
In the draft bill, BIDA is composed of different heads of agencies, the governor of Aklan, the mayor of Malay, and certain representatives from the private sector.
The task force is trying to complete the rehabilitation works on the island, Bernardino said.
Currently, they are about 70 to 80 percent of their target.
Since the rehab is mainly on infrastructure, she said, the completion of phase II of the road project is around 80 percent.
Bernardino hoped to finish the rehab by September this year since the civil works, which were temporarily stopped due to lockdowns amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, have already resumed.
Projects implemented by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) are expected to be finished in December because their completion rate is now at 60 percent.
Once the BIDA is already there, what they need to ensure is “the protection and maintenance” of what has been started by the task force and “continued enforcement of laws,” Bernardino added.
They were happy, she said, the President announced in his address that it means would be a priority bill of the administration. (PNA)