Duterte eyes 'small area for tourism' in Boracay

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2018 10:05 PM | Updated as of May 02 2018 11:30 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he does not want the entire Boracay island to be used for tourism and commercial purposes, as he stressed his vow to purse land reform in the island paradise.

“You know, ‘yung Boracay is forestland agriculture [land]. Do not push me to the wall. Kasi hindi pa commercial ‘yan. Hindi pa rin residential,” Duterte said in a speech during the distribution of land titles to land reform beneficiaries in Mulanay, Quezon.

“I am not in favor of converting it into a commercial... So we can have a portion there maybe ‘yung mga hotels na... If that is really the will of Congress na hindi naman matuluyan mamatay talaga ang Boracay. But I am in favor of, sabi ko nga, earlier pronouncements ko.”

The President said he would instruct his Cabinet and Congress to study the possibility of putting up “only a small area for tourism” in Boracay and the rest for land reform.

The Department of Agrarian Reform earlier said 408.5 hectares of land in Boracay may be placed under the government’s land reform program.

Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said some 15.5 hectares of agricultural land in Boracay island are now immediately available for distribution if the President orders so.

In 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation 1084, which classified Boracay into 2 areas: forestland and agricultural land.

Under the proclamation, some 40 percent of the 1,028-hectare island was deemed as forestland while 60 percent was classified as agricultural land, he said.

Decades of development in the island, however, saw structures replacing crops in agricultural lands, DAR officials said, citing the findings of their inspection of Boracay.

Boracay had been closed to tourists since April 26, as the government embarked on a 6-month cleanup of the island famous for its powdery white sand but in recent years has suffered due to the steady flow of tourists.