The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) is playing a major – and very important – role in the rehabilitation of the island paradise of Boracay. This is according to TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Paragas when he disclosed that the Office of the President (OP) affirmed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision mandating TIEZA as the sole regulator of water and sewerage systems in tourism zones such as Boracay.
“With the affirmation of the OP that TIEZA has the regulatory authority over the water and sewerage services in Boracay, we want to make good to this mandate and ensure that rehabilitation efforts are for the long-term,” said Paragas. “In fact, even before the pronouncement of President Duterte to rehabilitate Boracay, the TIEZA Board has already allotted more than P1 billion to improve its water and drainage systems and had already commenced the project last December.”
Part of TIEZA’s mandate is the development of tourism zones and tourism economic zones (TEZs) as well as tourism infrastructure projects in the country.
“TIEZA works to rehabilitate our tourism assets and create new ones with partner-investors. We want to implement sustainability practices not only in Boracay but also to replicate it in other tourism areas,” he said.
In Boracay, TIEZA’s deputized unit, the TIEZA Regulatory Office (RO) is working closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the existing Water Service Providers (WSPs) in Boracay Island – Boracay Tubi System Inc. (BTSI) and the Boracay Island Water Company, Inc. (BIWC), to institute more accountability and ensure that WSPs provide better and responsible services.
In fact, the TIEZA RO and DENR immediately collaborated for a clarification on the previously issued memoranda with DENR issuing Memorandum Order (MO) No. 2018-04 dated September 18.
The MO provides that connection to the sewer network is sufficient for hotels with 39 rooms and below along the white/ long beach, and hotels with 49 rooms and below elsewhere in the island. Individual sewage treatment plants (STPs) are mandatory only along the white/ long beach for hotels with 40 rooms and above.
“With TIEZA as the sole regulator of water utilities, we will prioritize the overall satisfaction of the customers of the WSPs especially the tourists,” said TIEZA RO Chief Regulator Darren Fernandez. “We will ensure the sustainability of the water management systems of the WSPs.”
Fernandez also explained that in the next few weeks, the plan is to harmonize rules and standards to level the playing field to create a truly competitive setting for the WSPs. He assured the public that TIEZA RO will ensure compliance of WSPs to local and national environmental laws and high water standards based on Department of Health (DOH) and DENR policies, rules and regulations pertaining to wastewater management in Boracay.
“A single regulatory body overseeing the water and sewerage systems in the island is expected to contribute to the rehabilitation of Boracay as both WSPs’ operational data can now be benchmarked to promote efficiency with incentives and penalties for failure to meet commitments. Competition in the provision of water supply and sewerage/ sanitation services is expected to be more vibrant under this regulatory scheme,” Fernandez added.