MANILA - Members of the Ati tribe and legitimate Boracaynon farmers will be prioritized in the government's land distribution program in Boracay, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said Friday.
President Rodrigo Duterte had repeatedly said that a land reform program will be enforced in the popular tourist destination to restore the island's agricultural lands that are now peppered with resorts, restaurants, and other commercial establishments.
"Ongoing na 'yung pagiidentify ng farmer beneficiaries. Uunahin nating bigyan 'yung mga magsasaka na dating nakatira, nagsasaka sa lugar na iyan," Castriciones said in an interview on DZMM.
(The process of identifying farmer beneficiaries is ongoing. We will distribute [land] first to farmers who were really based here, who were really tilled land here.)
About 400 hectares of land in Boracay may be given to farmers but so far, only 15 to 20 hectares are available for distribution as establishments have been built in most farm lands in the island, the DAR chief said.
"Kung talagang ipapatupad natin ng husto 'yan na ayon sa batas, ganun talaga ang mangyayari kasi wala naman silang authority para mag-build ng mga structure diyan sa mga agricultural land na 'yan at sa forest land na iyan," Castriones said when asked if the government will demolish all establishments erected on farm lands.
(If we will really implement the law thoroughly, that [demolition] is what will really happen because the businesses there have no authority to build structures in agricultural and forest lands.)
In 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed presidential proclamation 1064 that classified Boracay Island as a "forestland and agricultural land."
The island known for its powdery white sand beaches was closed in April 26 to make way for a 6-month rehabilitation after Duterte ordered officials to clean-up Boracay's cesspools.