President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Monday to put the island of Boracay under the land reform program and give it back to the poor farmers as he reminded critics that the island is agricultural and forestal owned by the government.
The President also announced he will be issuing an order proclaiming Boracay under a state of calamity.
His warning came on the heels of accusations that Boracay’s six-month closure was to pave the way for the construction of a casino which the President debunked.
“Far from it actually. I never said about building anything…not even a nipa hut there,” he told reporters in a press interview at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport before his departure for the People’s Republic of China to attend the Boao Forum of Asia.
“I’ve said it before, agricultural ‘yan forestal. Unless there is a law or a proclamation of the president setting aside anything there, any inch of land maybe, then that would be all right for other people to go in,” he pointed out.
The President emphasized on his order to clean the island. “So mag-clean, mag sarado (we clean, we close). There is one way in and one way out,” he stressed.
Duterte reiterated his commitment to giving financial aid and making available some PHP2 billion for assistance but, only to the poor residents who will be affected by the closure.
But for the owners or resorts, hotels and the rich owning beautiful resorts, the President said he would not spend any single centavo. The foreigners who have settled there would not also get reparations and remunerations.
“Do not expect me to pay anything. That money is only intended for the Filipinos,” he said.
“Yung two billion diyan and the other help…each department has its own contingency plan. So meron — magtulungan kami. But master plan? Wala akong master plan diyan. Linisin ko muna ‘yan kasi agricultural ‘yan (The two billion and the other help…each department has each own contingency plan. There is — we will help each other. But master plan? I have no master plan there. I will clean it up first because that’s agricultural),” he stressed.
“I-land reform ko lahat ‘yan, then I’ll give it to the farmers. I’ll give them the tractors (I will have it under land reform, then I’ll give it to the farmers. I’ll give them the tractors),” he added.
“Give it to the people who need it most,” he said.
The President hinted at upholding the law which says it is forestal, agricultural. “Why would I deviate from that? Do I have a good reason to do it? What? casino? Who owns the casino?” he quipped.
Last week, the President approved the closure of Boracay for six months starting on April 26 to hasten cleanup and rehabilitation to stop further environmental degradation of the island.
The closure of Boracay was prompted by continued water pollution, discharge of untreated wastewater into the environment, and encroaching in wetlands and forestland. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)