LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God…” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, the Holy Bible).
LANDS IN BORACAY, STILL GOVERNMENT-OWNED UP TO NOW: Do you know the basis of President Duterte in announcing that after Boracay is all cleaned up he will give the island to the residents and the farmers there, and no longer to the rich businessmen and the others who somehow managed to secure titles or tax declarations in their names or their relatives over choice lots in the world-class island beach resort?
It turns out there is a joint decision that the Supreme Court issued in October 2008 yet, which declared that the government continues to own the whole of Boracay, considering its classification as an “unclassified public forest,” or a piece of land that cannot be titled, in any of its area, in favor of any private individual.
The joint decision of the high court was made by it in two cases: G. R. No. 167707, which was entitled “Secretary of the DENR, et. al. vs. Mayor Jose Yap, et. al.,” and G. R. No. 173775, entitled “Dr. Orlando Sacay, et. al. vs. Secretary of the DENR, et. al.” The joint decision was issued by the Supreme Court on the same day—on October 08, 2008.
SC: BUSINESSMEN OCCUPYING LANDS IN BORACAY CAN’T BE RECOGNIZED AS OWNERS: It is a lengthy joint decision that the tribunal issued in G. R. No. 167707 and G. R. No. 173775, but it came up with, and established, amazing legal points regarding Boracay. To those who are interested to know these points, what I intend to do here at Kakampi Mo Ang Batas is to focus on them one by one, until such time we shall have fully covered all items that the Supreme Court discussed in its decision.
Now, the first important and vital point that everyone should understand about Boracay is this: according to the Supreme Court, the businessmen and other people who occupied various lands in Boracay, and who now claim they should be given prior recognition as the lawful owners or possessors of what they have occupied or where they have put up structures for their businesses, have actually no right to be so recognized.
Even if businessmen-claimants are claiming they have already invested hundreds of millions of pesos on the lands they have been utilizing for their business enterprises in Boracay, their right as owners can not simply be accepted, the Court said. Whatever degree or length of possession they may have already enjoyed over those lands through the years will not yield any legal right in their favor, it added.
BORACAY REMAINS TO BE “UNCLASSIFIED PUBLIC FOREST:” The Supreme Court’s refusal to recognize any right of the present occupants or businessmen doing business in Boracay, no matter how long they may have been there at this point, is anchored on a simple point: at the time they started occupying or started doing business in the island, Boracay and its lands were still classified as “public forest.” Under the law, a “public forest” can never be acquired by any private individual.
Because of this classification as a “public forest” of Boracay at that time, titles in favor of any private person over lands therein can never be acquired by anyone, simply because the lands continue to be owned by the government. The Supreme Court clarified that a land which is “unclassified public forest,” like Boracay, can be titled to a private person only when the government declares it to be ready for disposition to private individuals, which is what Duterte wants to do, but only at this point.
“Private claimants’ bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title… must (therefore) fail because of the absence of the second element of alienable and disposable land…. Where the land is not alienable and disposable, possession of the land, no matter how long, cannot confer ownership or possessory rights…” the Court added. Clearly, no private person owns any land in Boracay, and the President is right in saying Boracay should be delivered to the farmers there.
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