Boracay woes ‘due to corruption’
The April 3 title of the Inquirer’s special report should have been: “Boracay woes due to corruption of local government.” It is not due to the so-called “failure” of the local government units of the Malay municipality and Aklan province.
It is due to corruption, pure and simple!
All the illegal construction on the island and tourist establishments operating without the necessary business permits are the best proof of this. The reported filing of charges by the Department of the Interior and Local Government this month is long overdue!
Local government officials have obviously been bribed by big businesses at least in the past 20 years since 1998 with the passage of Republic Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, that devolved the regulatory functions of the Department of Tourism to LGUs.
On top of the illegal construction, the Malay Municipal Council passed Ordinance No. 238 in 2013 allowing the construction of five-story and six-story buildings with land areas of more than 2,000 square meters and more than 20,000 sqm, respectively. This ordinance was obviously motivated by money more than anything else.
I have been to Bali, Indonesia, and the 100,000-sqm resort where we stayed in the exclusive tourism area of Nusa Dua only has three floors. Most of the structures are single story and two stories. The management told me how strict the Indonesian government is in regulating buildings in their world-famous resort island. True enough, it has a very low density development.
Boracay’s guideline on height of structures when it was still under the jurisdiction of the DOT until 1991 was rather simple: not higher than the highest coconut tree! So the most you can build is up to three levels. This is similar to the regulations in Bali, Indonesia, as well as in Phuket, Thailand.
The worst part is that almost all of these illegal construction were made on public property owned by the national government. The Supreme Court issued a 12-0 unanimous decision on Oct. 8, 2008 (GR No. 167707) that the “island is state property.”
Let the rule of law finally prevail in Boracay!
RICARDO B. RAMOS, former chair, Task Force Boracay
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