MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday stressed his plan to make Boracay a land reform area, saying he wants to prioritize the island’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 in Manila.
The President said he is still willing to have a portion of the island dedicated to tourism.
“Maybe you can cut a strip… Anyway the people are only interested in the beach,” he said.
The President earlier said his Cabinet and Congress may 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 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 inspections.
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.
-- Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News