The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is in the thick of preparations for the implementation of distributing agricultural lands to qualified indigenous people in Boracay Island, as the land reform ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte on the closed tourist resort is set to begin soon.
“By next week, we’ll start implementing agrarian reform in Boracay, so qualified IPs can eventually receive land they’ll cultivate for food and livelihood,” DAR Undersecretary David Erro said in a press conference in Metro Manila on Friday.
Among the preparations now being done by the department are ground validation of land for distribution and screening potential beneficiaries.
DAR is aiming to immediately distribute patches of agricultural land totaling nearly 26 hectares in the island, since no structures exist there, Erro said.
“Soil there is suitable for growing crops,” he noted.
The patches of immediately distributable land under the planned agrarian reform are in the villages of Yapak (14.66 hectares), Balabag (1.01 hectares), and Manoc-manoc (10.10 hectares), data surveyed by DAR showed.
Earlier, DAR had spotted about 15.50 hectares of agricultural land that could be subject to agrarian reform right away.
Erro said Boracay’s IP community identified some 80 Aetas there as potential agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of the immediately
“We’ll screen them to determine who’ll truly qualify as ARBs,” he said.
Erro said the primary criteria for selecting the beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 or Republic Act 6657 are candidates must be at least 15 years old, willing to cultivate land, and are landless.
He said DAR is looking into giving Boracay’s ARBs training that would enable them to grow agricultural produce and supply this to
establishments in the island.
Such arrangement will help ensure ARBs’ market and establishments’ fresh supply of the produce, he added.
Work on the patches of agricultural land is part of the three-phase Boracay agrarian reform plan.
The proposed second phase covers 220 hectares of the 628.96 hectares of Boracay land that the government classified as agricultural under Presidential Proclamation 1064 of 2006.
DAR’s proposed third phase covers the balance of agricultural land in Boracay, Erro said.
He said the second and third phases cover agricultural land, where residential and commercial structures already exist.
However, Erro said he expects DAR’s agrarian reform efforts in Boracay to face rough sailing because of court cases that owners of structures might file to hold on to their land ownership.
But these phases are also anchored on Malacañang orders, meaning DAR would carry these out only when the Palace says so.
The government closed down Boracay Island for six months beginning April 26 this year to speed up the cleanup and rehabilitation of the environmentally degraded tourist resort.
Water pollution, accumulation of solid waste, and structures’ encroachment into wetlands and forestland are among Boracay’s environmental problems, authorities noted. (By Catherine Teves, Philippine News Agency)