Boracay task force extension lauded; BIDA GOCC eyed

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Sunday welcomed the term extension of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) until June 30, 2022 via Executive Order 147. “We thank the President (Rodrigo Duterte) for his trust and confidence in the task force. We shall maximize this term extension to tie up all the loose ends of the island’s rehabilitation. This is our commitment to the Filipino people,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, also chairperson of the task force, said. The BIATF term would end in 2020, two years after its creation, but the President issued Executive Order 115 on May 11, 2020, extending the term of the BIATF until May 8, 2021. Meanwhile, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte is urging the Senate to back a House-approved measure to ensure the long-term rehabilitation, development, and preservation of Boracay Island in Aklan, one of the world’s best white sand beaches. “I am appealing to our senators to act soon enough on their own version of the House-passed measure establishing the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) as a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) that would oversee the rehabilitation of Boracay and ensure the sustainable development, conservation and protection of the natural resources of this isle renowned for its world-class white sand beaches,” he said. The House of Representatives passed by a 197-7 vote with no abstention the consolidated bill (House Bill No. 9826) establishing the GOCC to be known as BIDA. Last March 2021, the BIATF urged Duterte to extend its term anew “to allow the task force to complete all its projects that have been stalled by the pandemic,” and the President issued EO 147, extending the task force’s term until June next year. “The extension is an opportune time to monitor and assess the finished portions of the ongoing rehabilitation to ensure that these not only meet standards but are sustainable as well,” Cimatu said. “A Boracay Island brought back to its pristine state is the best legacy the task force can leave behind,” he added.  The House committees on local government, and government enterprises and privatization earlier approved the substitute measure HB 9826. The bill would fulfill President Rodrigo Duterte’s call in his 2020 State-of-the-Nation Address for the Congress to pass a law that will oversee the sound management of the resort island to ensure its environmental sustainability. BIDA “shall be developed into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities and to attract and promote productive local and foreign investments, taking into account the protection and preservation of the natural resources and biodiversity of Boracay Island.” 

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