Boracay farming? Good luck with 4 hectares
By its own admission, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has not identified farmlands in Boracay.
Should the distribution of any officially identified agrarian reform land on the resort island push through, the priority beneficiaries would be the indigenous people, as ordered by the President, according to DAR Undersecretary David Erro.
But President Duterte’s plan to turn Boracay entirely into a land reform area for farmers may not be attainable as DAR’s initial assessment found only about 4 hectares of arable land on the island.
In a press conference on Friday, Erro said that based on the land use plan of tourism-oriented Boracay, there were still “patches” of land across the three barangays of the island that could be set aside for agrarian reform.
DAR Secretary John Castriciones would be going to Boracay to further validate that inventory on April 24 and 25, Erro said.
“But I would like to be clear: Those 4 ha, that’s just an estimate. It has to be validated. It’s not the correct figure, so far. It’s one of the reasons why the secretary is going to Boracay,” he added.
But Erro maintained that majority of Boracay lands were classified as agricultural, citing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Proclamation No. 1064 classifying the island into 400 ha of protected forest lands and 628.96 ha of “alienable and disposable” agricultural lands.
Erro also cited the Oct. 8, 2008, decision by the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 167707 upholding the proclamation and stating that prior to Arroyo’s pronouncement, Boracay Island lands were unclassified and therefore presumed to be state-owned public forests.
Erro said this meant “all land titles issued in Boracay are null and void” prior to the 2006 proclamation, and invalid after the proclamation because “residents there only have a vested right … that will only accrue by 2036.”
“From 2006, based on Proclamation 1064, 30 years have to pass before lands there are allowed to be titled, and only then will titling be recognized,” Erro said.
“There should have been no land titles issued there,” he said.
Asked whether the DAR will legally challenge the existing land titles in the island, Erro said: “It’s not our jurisdiction to comment why structures had been built there. But what we are saying in this department is that the titles there are void because of the proclamation and the Supreme Court decision.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.