Senators thumb down plan to put Boracay under land reform

Photo from The Source, CNN Philippines

Senators thumbed down plans to enforce a Palace-proposed land reform in world-renowned Boracay, a popular tourist-drawing island resort that was shut down for 6 months on orders of President Duterte.

Instead, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon suggested that Malacañang can create a new body that will oversee the “development and management of Boracay” in the mold of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

“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,” he said.

Drilon disclosed they are currently “studying as a model the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority,” noting that “it must be manned by career and professional people so it could not be a political patronage.”

Interviewed after a Senate hearing on Boracay’s degradation, Drilon pointed out that the popular island resort “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 Senator said the Palace should instead install “a strong administrator which can manage a place like this,” adding that “it cannot be left to where it is today.”

He lamented that “all that we have now are ad-hoc solutions” when what is needed is “a master plan to be implemented by a single authority.

Drilon earlier filed Senate Bill 1765, also known as “An Act Creating the Boracay Island Council”. Drilon’s bill provides for the creation of a Boracay Council comprised of representatives from government agencies, local government units and the private sector that will take over the management, development, regulation, protection and maintenance of the island, including its coastal resources and marine biodiversity.

Senator Cynthia A. Villar, who presided over the committee hearing on Boracay issues, backed Drilon’s proposal to create “a single body that will oversee Boracay.”

At the same time, Drilon singled out the controversial West Cove resort for immediate demolition, describing it as the “mother of all the violators in Boracay,” saying this would deliver the message that the government was serious in its ongoing effort to “reform Boaracay.”

“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,” Drilon said, adding that “having different agencies handling the development and rehabilitation of Boracay and expressing different views on certain matters do not help the cause.”

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