MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Roa “Digong” Duterte on Wednesday, May 30, pointed up his plan to make the entire Boracay Island a land reform area, stating that he wants to prioritize the country’s crown jewel’s first inhabitants.
“I’m declaring a land reform in the entire island of Boracay. Congress and I will talk about this,” Duterte said in a speech.
President Duterte also claimed that he is still willing to have a segment the Philippines’ top tourist destination dedicated to tourism.
“Maybe you can cut a strip… Anyway the people are only interested in the beach,” Duterte said.
President Duterte earlier said that his Cabinet and Congress may conduct a research study on the possibility of putting up “only a small area for tourism” in Boracay and the majority of the island for land reform.
Duterte added, however, that in order to preserve the commercial quality of the island, the Congress might cut a strip of land and put an means of access to about 30 meters.
“So if you’re building a house there somewhere, I’m sorry. I will just have to make some adjustment,” the Duterte said.
The Department of Agrarian Reform(DAR) said that about 408.5 hectares of the land in Boracay island may be put under the government’s land reform program.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said that some 15.5 hectares of agricultural area in Boracay island are now immediately available for distribution should the President directs so.
Back in 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inked Proclamation 1084, which categorized Boracay island into 2 areas: forestland and for agricultural.
Under the aforementioned proclamation, some 40 percent of the 1,028-hectare of Boracay was regarded as forestland while 60 percent was classified as agricultural land, Castriciones said.
Decades of development in the Boracay island, however, have seen establishments replacing crops in agricultural areas, DAR chief said, referring the discoveries of their inspections.
The island had been closed to local and foreign tourists since April 26, as the government commenced on a 6-month cleanup drive of Boracay, The island is famous for its powdery white sand but in the past years has suffered due to the skyrocketing flow of tourists.