Gov’t to dump topsoil on Boracay – DAR
The government plans to dump soil on parts of Boracay to make its farmland productive as it seeks to implement President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to convert the island into an agrarian reform area, officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Monday.
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary David Erro said the government would place 30 centimeters to 1 meter of topsoil on portions of land that it would distribute to farmer-beneficiaries, to be planted with coconut or other crops.
The DAR made the announcement after the President said he did not want a residential area to rise in Boracay as this would negate the results of the six-month rehabilitation of the tourist destination.
“I will not allow a residential area . . . You will spoil everything. The number of people will increase. Then where will the waste go? It goes to the sea again,” he said on Saturday night before he left for South Korea.
Residential and commercial areas have sprung up on the 1,032-hectare resort island, of which a third is titled to the heirs of Ciriaco Tirol Sr.
The rest of the island is owned by the state.
Draft executive order
Under a comprehensive land use plan of Malay town, Boracay is classified as both residential and commercial, except those delineated as forestland and for institutional use.
The proposal to dump soil on the island is contained in a draft executive order, which will serve as the legal basis to allow the DAR to distribute land in Boracay.
The draft was prepared by the DAR and is ready for submission to the President for his signature.
Mr. Duterte on May 30 reiterated his earlier declaration of land reform on the island.
“I am declaring land reform on the entire island of Boracay. Let’s take it to the limit. Give it to the people,” he said.
Erro said funding to make the island productive again would have to be provided by the national government. The DAR, he said, did not have sufficient funds under its approved budget for 2018.
It was ready to “immediately” distribute 25 ha in Boracay, or an increase from the earlier declared 18 ha after “plotting and verification on the ground,” he said.
Under the draft order, agrarian reform in Boracay will be implemented in three phases.
The first phase will cover 25 ha of government land that are free of structures—including 14.7 ha in Barangay Yapac, 10.1 ha in Barangay Manoc-Manoc and 1.1 ha in Barangay Balabag.
The second phase will cover 220 ha, where the DAR has identified parcels of land with existing structures. He said “removal” of the structures might require the government to resort to legal remedies.
Coverage of the island’s remaining 623 ha of agricultural land will be carried out in the final phase.
“There are 80 who have already been identified who can be subjected to screening and may become the immediate beneficiaries of this agrarian reform,” Erro said.
“If possible, we can have Atis as beneficiaries. Give them training so that they can be sustainable. They themselves will supply the [agricultural] needs of Boracay,” he added. —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio