Boracay land disputes turn violentBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
ILOILO CITY—Violence has erupted anew in Boracay over property disputes in the world-famous tourist destination.
Police on Monday detained five security guards of a property owner who opened fire with shotguns at another group of security guards.
No one was hurt in the shooting that lasted for at least 10 minutes in Sitio Balinghai in Barangay Yapac, one of three villages on the island, said Chief Inspector Joeffer Cabural, chief of the Boracay Tourist Assistance Center (BTAC), the island’s police office.
Cabural said five security guards employed by AFFA security agency were detained at the BTAC station and would face charges of illegal discharge of firearms.
Eight other security guards under the Golden Eye and Comcen security agencies were also subjected to paraffin tests but were released because there was no evidence that they fired their weapons.
Cabural said the shooting erupted around noon on Monday after the AFFA guards, who were assigned to the property being claimed by the Aguirre family, had erected a fence that blocked the property of Tropicana Ocean Villas, which is being managed by South Philippine Resort property management company.
The AFFA guards fired at the Golden Eye security guards who had tried to remove the fence, according to Cabural.
The shooting occurred 10 days after the killing of Dexter Condez, the spokesperson of the Ati tribe in Boracay. Tribe members and their supporters believe the killing is related to disputes over a 2.1-hectare property that was awarded last year to the tribe by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples through a certificate of ancestral domain title.
Condez was buried last Saturday in rites attended by at least 1,000 mourners, including President Aquino’s sister, Victoria Eliza “Viel” Aquino-Dee.
“He was so young and he had a bright future. Those responsible (for Condez’s killing) should be caught and punished,” Dee said in a speech after the funeral Mass.
The conflicts involving ownership claims over prized lots have heightened and erupted into violence in recent years as investors, residents and longtime claimants fight over property rights.
Only about a third of the 1,032-ha Boracay Island has titles while the rest are being occupied through tax declarations.
The boom in the island’s P22-billion tourism industry has attracted property claimants and investors. This has increased the number of lots from 270 in the 1970s to more than 6,000 at present.
The price of land on the island has also risen significantly, ranging from P15,000 to P50,000 per square meter for properties near the beach and from P5,000 to P15,000 per square meter for those inland.
Tourist arrivals in Boracay reached 1,206,252 in 2012, while tourist earnings soared to P22.175 billion from P16.708 billion in 2011, according to data from the Department of Tourism.