SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 8854 or the proposed “Bucari Ecotourism Zone Act,” seeking to declare the Bucari area in the Municipalities of Leon and Alimodian in the Province of Iloilo as an ecological tourism zone.
The Bucari area covers 14 barangays in the Municipality of Leon and seven adjoining barangays in the Municipality of Alimodian.
HB 8854, principally authored by Rep. Arcadio Gorriceta (2nd District, Iloilo), recognizes that the State shall protect the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology, as well as to promote a viable and sustainable ecotourism industry in order to attract local and foreign tourists.
Ultimately, it aims to generate employment and investment opportunities for local communities while ensuring environmental protection and preservation of the area.
The bill stipulates that an Ecotourism Development Plan for the Bucari Ecotourism Zone shall be incorporated in the overall National Tourism Development Plan of the Department of Tourism (DOT), pursuant to Republic Act No. 9593 or the “Tourism Act of 2009.”
The Development Plan shall be jointly implemented by the Municipalities of Leon and Alimodian, and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in coordination with the TIEZA and the two Municipalities, shall delineate well-defined geographic areas and coordinate the integrated development of the area for the optimal use of its assets and attractions.
With this, the Bucari Ecotourism Council shall be created to be comprised of the following: (a) the Iloilo Governor, as Chairperson; (b) the Congressman of the 2nd District of Iloilo, as Co-Chairperson; (c) the DOT Regional Director for Region IV, as Vice Chairperson; (d) the DENR Regional Director for Region IV, as Co-Vice Chairperson; (e) the Mayors of Leon and Alimodian; (f) the Barangay Chairperson of Barangay Bucari; and (g) one representative each from a non-government organization and people’s organizations on ecotourism, the academe, the business sector, and the private sector.
The Council shall appoint an Administrator who shall serve as the executive officer in exercising its powers and functions, as well as in implementing plans, programs, and projects.
It shall also undertake the following functions: (a) adopt and update the Bucari Ecotourism Master Plan; (b) supervise the implementation of plans, programs, and activities; (c) assess and evaluate the potential impact of development to the environmental safety and well-being of the Ecotourism Zone; (d) conduct consultations with local residents and consider the incorporation of their cultural values and beliefs in the master plan; and (e) provide technical and financial assistance to the communities within Bucari./ Molie Gonzales, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau