NBI nabs 4 over occupation of Boracay forestlands
ILOILO CITY—Operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested four residents and property owners on Boracay Island, including a German, for allegedly occupying forestland areas.
The NBI team arrested them in separate locations in Barangay Balabag for violation of Presidential Decree No. 705 (Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines). They were taken to the Aklan Rehabilitation Center in the capital town of Kalibo, according to special investigator Rizaldy Rivera of the NBI’s Environment Crime Division.
Rivera, who led the team, said criminal complaints were filed against them on Wednesday in the Aklan provincial prosecutor’s office with recommended bail of P36,000 each.
He said those arrested had failed to comply with show cause orders and notices to vacate which were sent to them earlier. They also failed to present any document or proof, including titles and tenurial instruments from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, authorizing their occupation of the forestland areas.
The property owners on Thursday had yet to issue a statement regarding their arrest.
“We need to implement the law because this is part of the rehabilitation of the island,” Rivera told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
The NBI operation is part of efforts to clear forestlands in Boracay, which has been undergoing rehabilitation since April 2018.
But residents and property owners have questioned the classification of areas as forestland, citing commercial development and residential structures in these areas.
They also pointed out that they were issued building permits and paid local government fees and taxes for decades.
Presidential Proclamation No. 1064, issued on May 22, 2006, by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, categorized 628.96 hectares, or 60.94 percent of the island, as alienable and disposable, and the rest as forestland and protected areas.
Most of the areas categorized as public land are occupied and built up with residential and commercial structures.
The Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2008, upheld Proclamation 1064 declaring the entire island a property of the state, except those with titles.
NBI operatives last year also arrested 10 property owners and residents for the same offense. The government has filed at least 163 cases against illegal occupants of forestlands.
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