DAR Undersecretary David Erro said Boracay has over 400 hectares of agricultural land open for agrarian reform.
DAR records show some structures in Boracay stand on these agricultural tracts of land, which have not been authorized for conversion to non-agricultural purposes.
Erro said DAR is set to seek the help of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in restoring the soil condition of agricultural areas in Boracay to make these suitable for farming again.
He said the areas’ topsoil is now gone because of structures illegally built on these agricultural tracts of land. Topsoil is the upper layer of soil that serves as a medium for plant growth.
If the planned agrarian reform in Boracay Island includes demolition of such structures, Erro said the government could already do some “interventions” once the areas are cleared.
“We’ll consult with Department of Agriculture regarding the matter,” he said in an interview this week.
President Rodrigo Duterte intends to give the famous island resort’s agricultural lands to qualified locals through the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
Initiated in 1987, the CARP is the government’s initiative granting landless Philippine farmers and farm workers ownership of agricultural land.
Results of DAR’s initial inspection of Boracay last month showed most of the island’s structures, which include hotels, are in Manoc-Manoc.
Boracay’s forestland, meanwhile, is mainly concentrated in Barangay Yapak.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had reported structures’ encroachment in forestland, wetlands, and easement zones in the island.
Encroachment, water pollution, and solid waste accumulation are among the environmental problems now hounding Boracay, leading to its six-month closure.
The closure is meant to clear the top tourist spot for rehabilitation. Various government agencies, however, are addressing the livelihood concerns of the island’s residents arising from such closure.
Proclamation 1064 series of 2006 classified 628.96 hectares of land in the island of Boracay as alienable and disposable (A&D) agricultural land.
The law also classified remaining areas of Boracay as forestland for protection.
“It’s the first issuance to classify land in Boracay,” noted Erro.
Erro recalled that in 1978, then-president Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation 1081, which declared as tourist zones and marine reserves Boracay Island and other islands, coves, and peninsulas in the country.
The Land Management Bureau said alienable and disposable land could be privately owned, bought, and sold, following compliance with government processes and regulations.
Of Boracay’s total agricultural land, Erro said DAR had earlier approved the conversion of 80.16 hectares in Barangay Yapak and only one-half hectare in Barangay Manoc-Manoc into non-agricultural use.
In Yapak, he said, DAR had given 139.8 hectares of land exemption from CARP. All these exemptions and conversions, Erro said, are already excluded from the areas up for distribution to the landless locals of Boracay. (PNA) oa osa