Image credit: Stella ArnaldoAKLANONS, particularly these from the municipality of Malay and the island of Boracay, are opposing the brand new substitute invoice creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (Bida).

The nonetheless unnamed invoice, which substitutes and consolidates with 10 different comparable legislations, has morphed Bida into a brand new government-owned and -controlled company (GOCC), much like the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA). The invoice was mentioned on Saturday in a discussion board set by the Malay Sangguniang Bayan between native authorities officers and personal stakeholders of Aklan and Malay.

The substitute invoice, which has over 100 coauthors thus far, not solely will “handle, develop, protect, and rehabilitate” Boracay Island, the nation’s crown jewel of tourism; it additionally offers Bida management over Barangay Caticlan, the municipality of Malay, “and your complete space occupied by the airport, which extends to the municipality of Nabas.” It additionally offers Bida the facility to “contract, lease, purchase, promote, purchase, personal or dispose movable and immovable, in addition to private and actual property of no matter nature, together with shares.”

After the discussion board, near 25 Malay, and Boracay Island multisectoral associations, signed as much as oppose the substitute invoice, and are interesting to lawmakers to revert Bida to an earlier-envisioned regulatory authority.

Prior to its closure for six months in 2018, Boracay attracted over 2 million guests who contributed P56.14 billion to the Philippine financial system.

‘Unconstitutional’

“It’s very clear that this [substitute bill] is a violation of the Constitution and the Local Government Code,” stated Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores throughout the discussion board. He added, “No consultations have been made” between lawmakers and those that will likely be affected if the invoice is handed.

He underscored, like the opposite native officers who attended the discussion board, that they “supported the creation of a Bida as an authority,” which can have the identical features of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), that of overseeing the administration of the island and its assets. In his final State of the Nation Address, President Duterte urged lawmakers to set the creation of Bida as a precedence measure.

Duterte created the BIATF, led by the Secretary of Environment and cochaired by the Secretaries of the Interior and Local Government and of Tourism, to rehabilitate Boracay Island, implement present legal guidelines on easement and environmental safety, and assemble a lot wanted infrastructure. Its time period is about to run out on May 2021.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has stated BIATF’s work is “on monitor” to be accomplished by May 2021, though the DOT’s personal unit, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, is scheduled to finish its much-delayed drainage mission by the tip of the yr.

‘Vast taxation powers’

It was identified throughout the discussion board that as a GOCC, the Bida will likely be given  the “huge powers of taxation and regulation that comprise an LGU,” depriving Malay an enormous chunk of tax revenues wanted for his or her sustained operations and initiatives. Under the substitute invoice, “All native taxes and nationwide taxes shall be imposed on enterprise institutions working and registered with the Authority; Real property taxes shall stay with the federal government of Malay.” The municipal treasury workplace has reported that 98 p.c of its revenues come from Boracay Island when it comes to regulatory charges, enterprise taxes, and actual property taxes.

In a presentation by Aklan provincial board member Jay Tejada to the discussion board, he famous that there are already present legal guidelines that cowl the powers given to the Bida when it comes to the issuance of enterprise licenses and permits, which he identified  is an authority given to the Sangguniang Bayan as per Republic Act 7160, the Local Government Code (LGC). He added that the 1987 Philippine Constitution additionally respects the native authority’s accountability to impose taxes, and in instances of conflicts between Bida and LGUs, the LGC at all times favors the native authority.

“In Bida, the one ‘bida’ (protagonist) is Bida. It creates a brand new LGU,” he pressured.

Local officers need to submit a place paper with House lawmakers and focus on their very own ideas about Bida, earlier than the substitute invoice is submitted to plenary in March.