President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday vowed to declare the island of Boracay under land reform and distribute land titles “piece-by-piece” to its original settlers — the indigenous people.
In his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte shared that he went to the “other side of the island” after the tourist destination was reopened in October 2018 and asked the Department of Agrarian Reform on the status of the land behind its White Beach.
“They (said) they are still categorized as forestal and agriculture, and not commercial. So I told the Agrarian Reform, ‘go to the place, have it inspected because I will declare the whole of the island a land reform program. And I gave the island piece-by-piece to the Aetas, the natives of the place, so there’s nothing to be said against us anymore,” he said.
Duterte said this should dispel speculations that the Boracay rehabilitation was initiated to open up opportunities for businessmen and infrastructure development in the place.
“They say that we did this cleanup so that we can provide for my friends. I don’t have rich friends, I don’t want the rich as my friend,” he stressed.
In November 2018, Duterte led the initial distribution of six Certificates of Land Ownership Awards to 44 members of Aklan’s indigenous people. The new IP landowners received a total of 3.2064 hectares of agricultural lands.
Duterte said he is proud that the famous Boracay Island has been restored “closed to its original pristine” after a six-month major rehabilitation from April to October last year.
“Boracay is just the beginning,” Duterte said as he urged local government units to implement all the environmental laws. (PNA)