MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will give lands in Boracay to farmers as a "land reform area," citing a law that describes the islands as a forest reserve and agricultural land.
Speaking to the press before leaving for China, Duterte said no casinos nor any other businesses will be built on Boracay while it is closed for cleaning.
He insists that by law, the whole island is fully owned by the government.
"Master plan? Wala akong master plan diyan linisin ko muna 'yan kasi agricultural 'yan. So maybe after that, I'll give the farmers... I-land reform ko na 'yan. I tell you now i-land reform ko lahat 'yan then I'll give it to the farmers," he said.
"Sasabihin ninyo how about the business there? I'm sorry but that is the law. The law says that it is a forest land, agricultural. Why would I deviate from that? Do I have a good reason to do that?" Duterte added.
Macau casino giant Galaxy Entertainment and its Filipino partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp (LRWC), earlier announced the building of a $500-million integrated resort in Boracay.
The developers made the announcement last month after they signed a provisional license with the country's gaming regulator. This, despite Duterte's orders to close the island for a cleanup.
LRWC claimed that the facility, set to be built in a 23-hectare property, is "not a "mega casino" as detractors claim, but a top leisure destination in Boracay targeting Asian families."
The President has already approved the total closure for 6 months of Boracay effective April 26, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
The island, which Duterte called a cesspool, will be fully closed to tourism, according to Roque.
The President said P2 billion worth of calamity funds will be set aside for those who will be hit by the closure. However, he said only the poor people will be given financial aid. Even foreign businessmen will not be given reparations, he added .
"We can make available about P2 billion of assistance but this is only for the poor Filipinos. I will not spend a single centavo for those inns, hotels, and motels. 'Yung magagandang bahay, don't expect me to pay you anything," he said.