Governor Arthur Yap, fresh from his perceived victory in negotiating for a temporary power rate reduction for Bohol, will be looking into illegal quarrying in the province which he said is his “next target.”
Yap’s decision to go after illegal quarry operators is line with his tourism-centric governance as he said that income from tourism eclipses that of quarrying.
“Ang quarry, we have to study that. Mao na ang next target nako. Why? Because I want to keep Bohol beautiful pang awhag nato sa turista,” said Yap during a meeting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and tourism stakeholders at the Capitol on Wednesday.
The governor, who is on his first term, anticipated opposition in the planned drive against quarrying but was unperturbed, saying that he would pursue it, and other “hard decisions,” even if these will cost him the next election.
“Because once you take, it’s extractive. If we don’t manage it [quarrying] well, it becomes destructive…That’s why I only have one election because people will get mad at me, because I will say ‘no’ to many people mao na wa tay paglaum sa 2022,” Yap said.
“But it’s ok. You did not elect me to be governor to make the easy decisions. You elected me governor to make the hard decisions,” he added.
The governor during the same meeting called for government agencies and stakeholders to reaffirm their “seriousness” in tourism.
Jobs in tourism
Yap pinpointed tourism as the “fastest way” to generate jobs and create “wealth.”
In a press briefing at the Governor’s Mansion on Friday, Yap said that Bohol is already one of the tourism capitals in the Philippines but he intends for the province to be a major tourism draw in the Southeast Asian region beside Bali, Phuket and other world-renowned destinations.
“More than agriculture, more than industry, the fastest way in [job creation] is tourism,” he said.
On his first day as Bohol’s chief executive, Yap immediately established that his administration’s main thrust is to address poverty by generating employment through tourism.
He said that Bohol should capitalize on the previous investments made by both the local and national governments to preposition the province as a main tourism draw in the country.
“So let it be very clear, kung naa mangutana ninyo ‘what is the overall objective?’ It is to create jobs and opportunities for everybody. How? Very simple, only one program—tourism ra,” said Yap in his first speech before Capitol employees and officials on July 2.
Even before he could embark on his tourism-focused governance, however, Yap has been hounded by various longstanding issues including high prices of fish, fuel and electricity in the province, which the governor vowed to address.
Earlier this month, Yap successfully negotiated for a power rate reduction of P0.97 centavos to P1.29 per kilowatt hour (kWh) which will reflect in electricity billings in the forthcoming months starting July through a two-day marathon meeting with national power authorities on July 10 and July 11.
Bohol starting June was plagued with exorbitant power rates which was later traced to the congestion in the province’s usual power line which brings supply from Leyte to the province. This led to the sourcing of power from the Wholesale Electric Spot Market (WESM) where “spot” prices are dictated by the demand-supply situation on an hourly basis.
The issue was exacerbated by what was deemed by Yap as an “inequitable formula” used in computing charges by WESM on the province’s distribution utilities which pass on the extra charges to the consumers. The meeting also prompted a review on the said computation.