AFTER suffering a temporary set back from Super Typhoon Yolanda, tourism is back to normal in Boracay and Palawan, both famed destinations of the country, reported Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas who met with local officials recently.
Roxas said he is impressed by the resilience and strong will of the people from these provinces and their determination to rise above their predicament from the natural disaster.
Roxas, vice chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, along with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman met with local executives as part of the inspection of ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts on areas devastated by Yolanda on November 8.
“The leading tourist destinations of the country have largely escaped the brunt of Yolanda. But we met with tourism stakeholders and concerned government officials in Palawan and Boracay who informed us that they are back in business despite some minor hitches,” Roxas said.
Palawan is home to the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) and the world renowned Tubbataha Reef—two World Heritage sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World.
It is also world-famous resorts like Honda Bay and El Nido Beach.
Boracay Island in Aklan is famous for its sugary white sand beaches.
During their meetings with local officials, Roxas, Soliman and Gazmin assured them that the Aquino administration fully supports the local tourism industry in Palawan and Boracay.
“With the peak travel season just weeks away, hotel operators in Palawan and Boracay must hasten the repairs of damaged structures so we can entice both local and foreign tourists to visit their places during the Holiday season,” Roxas said.
He told them: “You can enlist my support in attracting tourists, here and abroad, to visit your beautiful places once again. But build better and safer communities.”
While in Palawan and Aklan, Roxas advised the LGUs to review and update their Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs) and Comprehensive Development Plans (CDPs) for safer communities, bearing in mind climate change impacts and with “Yolanda as the new normal. The lessons of Yolanda are very important so we have to take it seriously for safer communities because each life is important. ”
Roxas flew to Palawan, Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo on Tuesday with Gazmin and Soliman to check the needs of 14 towns that were placed under a state of calamity due to the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
He said the local executives should review their CLUPs, CDPs and zoning ordinances for them to come up with a “build better” plan guided by latest geological assessments that will minimize, if not totally prevent casualties, in times of natural disasters.
CLUP is a planning document prepared by LGUs to rationalize the allocation and proper use of land resources. It projects public and private land uses in accordance with the future spatial organization of economic and social activities.
Under the Local Government Code of 1991, all LGUs are mandated to continue to prepare/revise/update their comprehensive land use plan which shall be enacted through a zoning ordinance.
Roxas said that LGUs can coordinate with concerned DILG regional and provincial offices which can provide them with technical assistance in the preparing their “climate-proof” CLUPs.
The LGUs, he pointed out, should be able to identify areas that are prone to floods and landslides and declare such areas as “no build zones” or “no habitation zones.”
While the CLUPs are under review, Roxas advised local executives to coordinate with national government agencies and private sector partners so they can relocate those living in so-called “danger zones” as a preventive measure.
“There are geohazard maps which can serve as guide to LGUs in building disaster-proof or safer communities,” he said.
The government, as part of its rehabilitation plan in the Visayas, is now mapping out areas that are prone to flood, landslide and storm surges with the help of geologists to identify permanent and more importantly, safe relocation sites.
Roxas said LGUs should also come up with local disaster risk reduction and management plans and consider forced evacuation in case of grave danger to communities.