628.96 hectares in Boracay can be distributed

Posted by watchmen
May 17, 2018
Posted in OPINION

“…Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy…” –Romans 13:13

 

Despite two 2008 Supreme Court decisions that disallowed businessmen and countless other individuals from acquiring titles for the land their operations occupy in Boracay, many have still engaged in business on the resort island for a long period of time.

In Supreme Court cases of Secretary of the DENR vs. Mayor Jose Yap and Dr. Orlando Sacay vs. Secretary of the DENR, the court declared businessmen who petition the court to acquire titles over choice land in Boracay are not qualified.

The court’s reason: When businessmen first arrived in Boracay and appropriated vacant lots for themselves, the island was still considered an unclassified public forest, or property only the government can own. This means no private individual can ever own any part of the island; no matter how long that may have been occupying the area.

 

Development spending is not grounds for acquiring a title

The Supreme Court ruled businessmen operating on the island failed to provide proof their activities had been ongoing for time immemorial (legally, the term refers to action undertaken since June 12, 1945).

They also ruled businessmen are not entitled to the land despite the hundreds of millions spent to develop the area. According to the court, expenditure for development were made in pursuit of trade and not as a basis to acquire a land title.

 

Up for distribution

The Supreme Court also recognized President Proclamation No. 1064, issued in 2006 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, wherein 400 hectares of land in Boracay were set aside as forest reserve (which keeps it under government ownership) and another 628.96 hectares were converted to agricultural land.

With the proclamation both valid and binding, the 628.96 hectares is applicable to existing land distribution laws, which means those disqualified from acquiring land titles would also not be eligible to secure any of the agriculturally-zoned land. Only farmers and residents would be eligible for the land, as affirmed earlier by President Rodrigo Duterte, and not businessmen.

 

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