Senator Cynthia Villar expressed disappointment Monday that the government only expects 30 percent of the establishments in Boracay will be allowed to operate when the island resort opens to the public in October.
During the hearing of the Senate environment and natural resources committee, Villar asked what is the target of the Boracay interagency task force when the six-month closure order ends.
Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said they see around 30 percent establishments which are already connected to the sewer system and have their own sewage treatment plants.
“Hopefully ‘yung 30 percent nakakabit lahat sa sewer line at may sariling STP,” he said.
Villar said the target is unacceptable from a business person’s point of view, but Densing explained that the establishments have to comply with government rules.
“Around 30 to 50 percent assuming na ito ay discharging and naka-connect sa sewer line. We have to admit na sa listahan maraming nagtayo ng establishments, inns and hotels, na walang business permit, walang mayor’s permit, Pag-IBIG, Philhealth. Naging wild, wild, west ang Boracay, 163 establishments does not have mayor’s permit, building permit,” said Densing.
“Bakit natin papayagan ang malalaking establishments to continue to operate na walang business permit, although labas na ito sa issue ng tubig, sa issue ito ng governance,” he added.
Villar said the lower target explains why the work of the interagency task force was slow.
“Kaya pala hindi kayo nagmamadali sa trabaho n’yo dahil ambaba ng target n’yo. Ako kasi kung ako hindi magtatarget ng 30,” she said.
She also asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to reconsider its order requiring establishments with 50 rooms and above located on Boracay’s beachfront to build their own sewage treatment plants while those with 49 rooms and below should group together and have a clustered sewage treatment plants.
She said the big establishments will have no problem but the rule will be hard for those with 10 to five rooms only.
“Mahirap ‘yun dahil ibibigay ang problema sa establishments, 50 rooms and below magsama-sama sila ang build their own STP, buti kung magkasundo sundo sila. There should be a better model than that,” she said.
She noted that 80 percent of the establishments in Boracay beachfront have 49 rooms and below.
“Kahit mag-fulfill ‘yung 50 rooms and above, may problem pa rin dahil ‘yung model n’yo is not implementable. ‘Yung maliit na business kung wala silang perang hindi nila masusunod ‘yun,” she said.
Villar scored the interagency task force for making policies that are hard for the small business people to follow.
“Kasi kayo kung gagawa kayo ng policy basta gagawa kayo ng policy hindi tinitignan kung kayang ma-fulfill ng mga tao ang policy. Ang policy dapat sa gitna ng what we would like and what the people could comply, it is in between. Wala kayong pakialam and then you tell the people to follow, if you don’t follow then you will be closed,” she said.
Villar said it is the responsibility of government agencies to make people understand the policy and be able to comply with it.
“It is responsibility ng government to make them understand what you are asking them to do pero walang pakialam maski magkahirap hirap ka dyan. That is not the concept of a government that is helping the people. Kapag hindi mo sila tinuruan they cannot be competitive, they cannot be profitable,” she said.
Densing said that based on the talk with Boracay interagency task force, they can request for the one-stop hop to extend its operation to enable more establishments comply with the requirements.
Villar also expressed exasperation with the reports submitted to her, describing the same as ‘confusing.’
“‘Nag-analyze kayo ayaw n’yong inditihin. Binibigyan n’yo ako ng report na hindi kumpleto na we don’t see the real picture…Nililito n’yo na naman ako para hindi ko maintindihan,” she said.
She asked the government agencies to give her a complete report of all the establishments in Boracay and not just those in the beachfront, how many of them have complied, and how many can comply before the deadline ends.