Senator Nancy Binay on Wednesday said the Task Force Boracay’s recommendation to revoke and suspend all Environmental Compliance Certificates and business permits of establishments operating in Boracay may be necessary but the government must ensure reapplications will have clear, simple, practical guidelines and efficient, transparent and corruption-free procedures.
Binay said she understands the necessity to rescind all permits of businesses operating in the island since this would give government and the people a “fresh start” but the reapplying process may be too cumbersome and the compliance could be prone to corruption.
“We want clear guidelines that will not take advantage of others by harassing applicants,” said Binay. She said these should be clear and simple to understand, reasonable and practical to comply with. The process of compliance must be efficient, transparent and free from any opportunity to elicit favors from the applicant,” she stated.
Binay also said that she wants both national and local governments to shoulder the fees and other payments needed for applying for permits.
“To be fair, let everyone be given a fresh start. Everybody applies (for a business permit and ECC) again, and it is also fitting for government to extend them the courtesy to re-apply and waive the fees except for the payment of taxes. Besides, everyone benefits from second chances and it’s an opportunity to be inspired, turn their fortunes around, and give the people of Boracay the needed boost,” she said.
While environmental and legal compliance of establishments are still being reviewed, she said stakeholders have a chance to make the necessary corrections to ensure full compliance for them to operate.
“Let’s start on the right foot. This is where we get to start fresh and be accountable for the environment. But let us not use the application for a new permit as a fundraising activity,” she said.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu recently issued a memorandum circular ordering the suspension of all existing ECCs and business permits vis-à-vis their compliance with local and national laws.
To avoid another systemic failure in the future, she said it is best to restart and correct whatever wrong settings there may be in order for establishments to be fully compliant with existing laws and environmental policies.
“We also need to cast away man-made factors that contribute to the unsustainability of Boracay, at ganun din dapat ang maging direction sa ibang island destinations. The necessary rebooting of Boracay makes Mother Nature hopeful of a better future for the island and its people,” Binay said.
“The people depend on the natural capital which is made up of forests and wetlands with rich biodiversity, and Boracay’s pristine waters—wag nating pabayaan ito at sayangin,” she added.
Binay noted that local and national government agencies should provide guidance that simply goes beyond complying with the checklists and other legal requirements.
“Government should help stakeholders understand the value of Boracay island in the social, environmental and human contexts and not only on the economic perspective.”
She said establishments should also understand the importance of the carrying capacity and their optimum limit.
“Hindi ito dapat natatapos sa pag-comply ng checklist at ibang documentary requirements—may kakambal na responsabilidad din ito,” she said.
Binay also suggested that a unified system of accreditation, policy, and regulation be recommended by Task Force Boracay to avoid any confusion of specific types of information and regulatory requirement.