President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced on Monday, April 9, that the controversial Boracay island may be subject to land reform coverage.
The President made his remarks a few days after he approved the six-month closure of the island beginning April 26.
“So maybe after that, I-land reform ko lahat yan (I will put it all under land reform program), then I’ll give it to the farmers. I’ll give them the tractors,” Mr. Duterte said in his speech at the Davao International Airport in Davao City prior to his departure for China and Hong Kong.
As for the business sector, the President said: “How about the business? Well, I’m sorry but that is the law. The law says it is forestal, agricultural. Why would I deviate from that? Do I have a good reason to do so?
Former President Gloria M. Arroyo signed the Proclamation No. 1064 that “classifies Boracay Island situated in the Municipality of Malay, Province of Aklan as Forestland (for Protection purposes) and Agricultural Land (Alienable and Disposable) in accordance with the provisions of Commonwealth Act 141, otherwise known as the Public Land Act and Section 13 of Presidential Decree No. 705 otherwise known as Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, subject to actual ground survey and delineation.”
Mr. Duterte stressed that the island is going to be a land reform area for Filipinos. “If they want to build something there, they can.”
The President also denied speculations that there is a planned construction of a giant casino on the island.
“I never said about building anything or even a nipa hut there. What I said is that the island itself is owned by the government. I’ve said before that it is agricultural and forestal. Unless there is a law or a proclamation of the President setting aside anything there, an inch of land, maybe, then that would be all right for all those people to go in,” he explained. — Arjay L. Balinbin