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40% of Boracay covered by land reform —DAR

Over 40 percent of Boracay island could be handed over to beneficiaries of agrarian reform if the government decides to push through with its planned land reform program, even if a large chunk is being used by business establishments.

Data released by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Monday showed 408.5113 hectares of agricultural land out of the 1,006.64 hectares of the total land area of the Boracay may be covered by land reform.

The numbers were based on an ocular inspection of the island on April 24 and 25, Tuesday and Wednesday last week, according to the department.

Under the Proclamation 1064 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006, Boracay island was classified into 628.96 hectares of agricultural land and 377.68 hectares of forest land.

Some 220.44 hectares of the agriculture land were converted into other uses and exempted from land reform. The remaining 408.5113 hectares are still covered coverable by land reform.

President Rodrigo Duterte said last month he will place the entire island of Boracay under land reform once the six-month rehabilitation is done.

DAR Secretary John Castriciones said there are still no marching orders from the President to distribute the land to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“As of now, there’s no marching orders yet to subject the agricultural land to land reform,” he said in a press conference in Quezon City.

The government is capable of turning over the land to beneficiaries once the President issues an order.

“As far as the legality of the order of the President is concerned, it is very valid and legal,” he said.

“If the plan is to convert ... that can be done because when we went there, we talked with the potential beneficiaries of the land reform,” Castriciones noted.

A total of 84 individuals are qualified beneficiaries of the land reform program in Boracay, according to DAR records.

“Kapag ginamit po natin ‘yung normal na proseso, ayon po sa sinasabi ng batas, meron pong mga more or less 121, barring some legal impediments,” he said.

Castriciones also added that currently, a total of 15.5 hectares can be covered by land reform, as there are no structures in those areas.

In the absence of the necessary permits, there is legal basis for demolishing the remaining land area with establishments to make way for land reform.

“Whatever the structures, they would appear to have been constructed without the requisites,” he said.

Demolishing the structures is no longer the responsibility of DAR, which is only focused on identifying and turning over the areas covered by land reform, Castriciones noted.

“That is not our mandate. It will be the mandate of other departments like the LGUs (local government units),” he said. —VDS, GMA News