By Helen Castaño | 04:10 PM August 03, 2022
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) in Bohol province on Tuesday approved a resolution to create a task force for purposes of fact-finding on the incident on overwhelmingly high prices of food sold in Virgin Island in Panglao town.
Lawyer Jamie Aumentado Villamor, chairman of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Committee, said
Bohol is confronted with a tourism-centered issue involving alleged complaint.
“We are not only confronted with tourism issues, we are confronted with socio-economic issues which I fear would result to what is called the tragedy of the commons wherein the people will exploit the area based on their common interest and deplete the resources, ” Villamor said during her privilege speech.
She said although Governor Aris Aumentado has initiated and called for meetings to investigate on the matter, the official creation of a task force is necessary as an effective way to address the problem involving different sectors of the community.
She said the task force would review on the status of actions taken to address all issues confronting Virgin Island and recommend action points especially that we need to alternate plans for our vendors and small time businessmen.
The Virgin Island, subject of the controversy, is located within Panglao Island, under the intensified protection of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018, Presidential Decree 1081 and other existing laws, rules and regulations.
Generally, under existing environmental laws, certain regulation on commercial activities is in place such that multiple use resources may be subjected to limited commercial activity.
“Are vendors in the sand bar and on waters considered as limited commercial activity? Is the virgin island classified as multiple use protected area? If yes, was it officially declared? Otherwise, there has to be total prohibition as such is a protected area with strict use,” Villamor asked.
Bohol Environmental Management Office that several workshops were conducted with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other stakeholders, recently was held in the month of July 2022. Among the findings of the workshop were the improper management of solid and liquid waste in the area, lack of business permit and registration in local government unit of Panglao, unregulated prices of food and double collection of environment user fees and the protected area fees.
Gov. Aris Aumentado said he supported the plan of the DENR to close the Virgin Island for tourists.
” As a governor, I supported the decision of DENR because it (the incident) damaged our tourism industry. We will find a solution for this,” Aumentado said.