Duterte vows to re­turn Bo­ra­cay to na­tives

Manila Bulletin - - National News - By GENALYN D. KABILING

After the six-month re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Bo­ra­cay Is­land, Pres­i­dent Duterte has pledged to give back the world fa­mous beach des­ti­na­tion to the na­tives and not to the wealthy busi­ness­men re­port­edly close to his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The Pres­i­dent as­serted that he in­tends to place Bo­ra­cay un­der land re­form pro­gram, dis­pelling spec­u­la­tions that he would al­low casino op­er­a­tors and other wealthy al­lies to do busi­ness in the is­land.

"Ka­gaya ng Bo­ra­cay, anak ng… marami na… may mga gam­bling daw, ila­gay ko mga kaibi­gan ko [Like Bo­ra­cay, son of a ..they say I will put gam­bling there, put my friends there]. You know, ang ak­ing think­ing ngayon [What I’m think­ing now is] I will de­clare Bo­ra­cay as a land re­form area. Ibi­gay ko, iba­lik ‘yan sa mga nat­ibo, Mangyans [I will re­turn it to the na­tives, the Mangyans]," Duterte said dur­ing his visit to Marawi City last Fri­day.

"Wala akong kaibi­gang negosyante na maya­man na sabi­hin mo, ibi­gay ko ‘yang Bo­ra­cay [I don't have rich busi­ness­men friends who you say I will give Bo­ra­cay to]," he added.

Duterte ex­plained that the gov­ern­ment only in­tends to clean up and re­ha­bil­i­tate the is­land and then re­turn the lands to the res­i­dents and farm­ers.

"Iba­lik namin ‘yan sa inyo. Walang prob­lema [We will re­turn it to you. No prob­lem]," he said.

The Pres­i­dent ear­lier op­posed any plan to put up a casino in Bo­ra­cay and in­stead de­clared plans to de­clare the is­land as a land re­form area.

Duterte said Bo­ra­cay re­mains a fore­stal and agri­cul­ture land, and that he prefers to give the land to Filipinos es­pe­cially farm­ers, rather than for­eign­ers.

The pol­lu­tion-stricken Bo­ra­cay is cur­rently closed to tourists amid the gov­ern­ment-led re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ef­forts, in­clud­ing the up­grad­ing of the sewage sys­tem and dis­man­tling of il­le­gal struc­tures.

The shut­down ends on Oc­to­ber 25.

In Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 53 that cre­ated the Bo­ra­cay in­ter-agency task force, the Pres­i­dent cited an old procla­ma­tion clas­si­fy­ing Bo­ra­cay into 377 hectares of re­served for­est land for pro­tec­tion pur­poses and 628 hectares of agri­cul­tural land as alien­able and dis­pos­able land.

"Pur­suant to the Re­galian Doc­trine, whereby all lands not pri­vately owned be­long to the State, the en­tire is­land of Bo­ra­cay is state-owned ex­cept for lands al­ready cov­ered by ex­ist­ing ti­tles," the or­der read.

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