Drilon bats for SBMA-like body to manage, develop Boracay

By Jose Cielito Reganit

June 20, 2018, 8:27 pm

MANILA -- Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday urged the creation of a single body similar to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) that will take over the development and management of Boracay Island, stressing that a powerful governing authority is needed to coordinate the efforts of all concerned agencies in the island's rehabilitation and development.

Drilon made the call after noting that rehabilitation works are being hampered by finger-pointing among several government agencies, including the local government units (LGUs), on who is ultimately to blame for the various woes besetting Boracay, like sewerage and illegal structures among others.

“As we have witnessed, about a dozen of agency would have their own little kingdoms, issuing permits, etc. (and) the local government would utilize their powers under the Local Government Code. So what do you have? A chopsuey of a management,” Drilon said in an interview following the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources' hearing on the degradation of Boracay.

During the hearing, Drilon said that having different agencies handling the development and rehabilitation of Boracay and expressing different views on certain matters is not helping the cause.

“In every issue, different agencies would handle it and have conflicting views. That doesn't include yet the local government unit,” he told the Senate panel.

“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 that various agencies are exercising right now,” Drilon added.

Meanwhile, Drilon told reporters that the ongoing six-month rehabilitation works in the island are just “ad-hoc solutions” that, in the absence of a master plan, cannot be sustained over time.

“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. What we would suggest is a strong administrator which can manage the place like this. It cannot be left to where it is today,” Drilon said.

“We need a master plan to be implemented by a single authority. Otherwise, maybe after six months, we have some reforms done but these cannot be sustained unless there is a single authority,” he added.

Drilon said that the creation of a SBMA-like body to manage Boracay Island has the support of Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores “even if it will mean a reduction of the powers of the LGUs."

“For the national interest, we need a governing authority with stronger powers and can coordinate and has the final say on all these development. It must be manned by career and professional people so it could not be a political patronage,” Drilon said.

Drilon has been pushing for the creation of a Boracay Island Council (BIC) at the Senate.

He is the author of Senate Bill 1765 that, once passed into law, would create a BIC which "shall take over the management, development, regulation, protection and maintenance of the island, including its coastal resources and marine biodiversity.”

"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," he said.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, fully supports Drilon’s proposal on the need to establish a single body to oversee Boracay.

“This is not a new concept like Subic Bay is managed by one body, Clark is managed by one body. There is something like that in Palawan, Batanes, in Intramuros, Rizal Park, so pwedeng gawin iyon (it can be done),” she said in a separate interview.

Kaya lang syempre (But of course), every situation is different from another. We have to discuss and see to what is the best way to do it,” Villar said.

Villar said that a technical working group has already been formed to study Drilon’s proposal. (PNA)