News Briefs: November 9, 2018
DAR eases fears of land beneficiaries in Boracay
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has assured land reform beneficiaries belonging to the Ati ethnic group on Boracay Island that they have nothing to worry about amid competing claims to the land by other owners. Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said that, although eight owners were contesting the land awarded to the Ati through collective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (Cloa), this was no cause for concern. At a press briefing before President Duterte’s arrival in Boracay’s Barangay Manoc-Manoc on Thursday afternoon, Castriciones said the tax declarations held by some Boracay residents were not considered proof of ownership. All properties in Boracay, he said, are covered by tax declarations. “They have nothing to fear since the tax declaration is not proof of ownership,” he said. The President was expected to lead the distribution of Cloas covering more than 274 hectares of land to 44 Ati families. Four hundred hectares of Boracay are considered forest lands, while 628 hectares are agricultural lands, which can be owned. —JULIE M. AURELIO
DFA may lift WPS drilling ban for joint exploration
With the government planning to sign two joint exploration agreements in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was working to lift a 2012 ban on all exploration and drilling works in the area. At a press briefing on Wednesday, Cusi acknowledged that two exploration agreements were up for signing by Malacañang. One of the agreements involves Service Contract No. 57 owned by the Philippine National Oil Corp. Exploration Corp. (PNOC EC), which signed a farm-in agreement with the China National Offshore Oil Corp. to explore a petroleum-rich area northwest of Palawan. SC 57 covers 7,200 square kilometers in the Calamian area and was awarded by the Department of Energy to PNOC EC in 2005. Asked whether the government would sign an exploration deal with China in time for the visit to Manila this month of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Cusi declined comment, saying he did not want to preempt the President. —CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO
Banaue rice terraces book launched on Monday
“A Banaue Story: Restoring a World Heritage Treasure,” a coffee table book on the restoration of the world-famous rice terraces of Ifugao province, will be launched on Nov. 12 at The Peninsula Manila hotel in Makati City. The 265-page book is a testimony to the efforts of local farming communities in the province and the dedication of advocates to the preservation of the age-old architectural wonder. Often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, it now faces alarming problems of degradation, neglect and abandonment. Apart from contributions from prominent personalities in the academe, the book, edited by former Inquirer editor Ester G. Dipasupil, is replete with spectacular photographs of the terraces—declared a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization—taken by renowned photographers Eduardo Masferre, John Chua and George Tapan, among others. It also includes documentation on the restoration efforts being undertaken by volunteers with the support of cultural heritage stalwart Milagros O. How, president and chief executive officer of Universal Harvester Inc.
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