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BIDA might not be best for Boracay development, presidential bets say

MANILA, Philippines — Will presidential aspirants approve the creation of a state corporation that will manage Boracay Island, a proposal that was criticized by local officials, non-governmental organizations and religious groups?

Majority of the candidates who attended the "Panata sa Bayan: The KBP Presidential Forum" on Friday opposed the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA).

President Rodrigo Duterte, whom the candidates wish to succeed, called on Congress in 2020 to pass a measure creating BIDA, which aims to ensure the development of the famous destination and sustain the gains from its earlier rehabilitation.

In August 2021, the House of Representatives approved the bill creating a development body in Boracay.

The bill will have to be filed again when the 19th Congress convenes in July.

Only Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he will sign a bill creating BIDA into law if he wins in the May elections.

“Magkaroon tayo ng tourism estate mentality kung saan makapag-attract at ma-develop ‘yung tourism, especially ‘yung Boracay,” he said.

(We should have a tourism estate mentality to attract tourists and develop tourism, especially Boracay.)

No need for a new body

Sen. Manny Pacquiao questioned the need for a state corporation that will manage the tourist destination, citing the work already being done by the Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Instead, the DOT and the local government should work together for the development of the island, the boxer-turned-politician said

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso also said there is no need to create another agency.

“Let us not fix something that is not destroyed… The national government should support the local government in that area,” he said.

Listen to affected communities

Vice President Leni Robredo said no to the creation of a new body.

“I won’t sign it. While I agree that it is important to fix Boracay through a tourism authority, I do not agree that the stakeholders, the LGUs are losing their voice,” Robredo said.

Labor leader Leody de Guzman, for his part, said the participation of the community in the development of Boracay must be ensured.

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