Much ado about BIDA

By Herbert Vego

BIDA has driven a wedge between the two Aklan congressmen and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP). But what is BIDA in the first place?

BIDA, now a byword among Aklanons, is acronym for Boracay Island Development Authority to be created through BIDA-2 bill, which seeks to create a government-controlled corporation that would manage the country’s most famous beach destination. The original BIDA-1 had failed to pass the previous Congress.

Aklan residents have vehemently opposed BIDA’s creation, since it would usurp the local government’s power to issue business licenses and building permits, among others.

There is no more problem with that though. The refiled BIDA bill (House Bill No. 1085) was withdrawn by its principal authors — Congressmen Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte, Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata, Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte, and Nicolas Enciso lll – on August 3, 2022.

In their session on August 8, however, Vice Governor Reynaldo “Boy” Quimpo and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) declared the named congressmen “persona non grata”.

It consequently ignited a word war pitting Aklan’s congressmen Teodorico T. Haresco, Jr. (2nd District) and Carlito Marquez (1st Dist.) on one hand, and Vice-Governor Quimpo and the SP on the other. Ironically, they all belong to Tibyog, a local political party.

The resolution earned the embarrassment and ire of Haresco and Marquez, who claimed that they had already persuaded the bill’s sponsors to withdraw it.

The act of the vice-governor and the SP eventually withdrawing their “persona non grata” declaration (dated August 8) did not sit well with Haresco. To reiterate, the offended congressmen had by then withdrawn the bill five days earlier on August 3.

“It’s all over the national news. They spat it out, licked it back but a colleague’s reputation is besmirched,” Haresco told Radyo Todo.

Haresco called the move of the provincial board “unethical, grave misconduct, and gross abuse of authority,” because, to reiterate, he had already informed the board members about the impending withdrawal of the BIDA-2 bill by the four sponsors.

How could Vice Governor Quimpo and the entire SP have mustered the temerity to shame him? He had helped them win in the last election!

Apparently, they had also not coordinated with Governor Joen Miraflores; not even with the municipal mayors.

Haresco said that because of their indiscretion, Governor Miraflores had also to explain to his peer, Camarines Sur Governor Vincenzo Renato “Luigi” Villafuerte, who is a son and brother of Congressmen Lray and Migz Villafuerte, respectively.

It is unfortunate that the vice-governor and the SP have only succeeded in revealing their disrespect to the congressmen and the governor despite their common disposition against the BIDA bill.

In defense of their ignorance, the vice-governor and the SP have cited the non-entry of the BIDA bill’s withdrawal in the website of the House of Representatives (HOR). But that only mirrors their lack of diligence that could have aborted their move against the Bicolano congressmen. This argument is flawed because the HOR website has not been updated.

If Quimpo were diligent, he could have asked the two Aklan solons for an update on the bill’s status.

What if he and the SP had already heard about the bill’s withdrawal and yet proceeded to file the “persona non grata” resolution? That might have misled the people into thinking that such  act had prompted the bill sponsors to back out.

That they held a special session on August 9 to recall their resolution was an admission that the vice-governor and the SP had committed gross negligence.

While they claim to have passed on August 1 a resolution calling the Aklan solons to oppose BIDA-2, the latter did not receive a copy of it. So, shouldn’t they have waited for the solons’ response within the 15-day period allotted by administrative protocol?

By the way, lest I be accused of malice, I am not personally known to any of the Aklan politicians mentioned here. I just happened to be an Ilonggo who married an Aklanon.