President Rodrigo Duterte with Agrarian Secretary John Castriciones personally awarded the first batch of titles as part of the agrarian reform program for the Ati indigenous group in Boracay on November 9
BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines – More than six months since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered land reform in the island of Boracay, the President on Thursday (November 9) personally awarded the first batch of titles as part of the agrarian reform program for the Ati indigenous group in Boracay.
Six certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) equivalent to 3.2 hectares of land have been issued to 45 agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Forty-three (43) of them are members of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization while one is a local land cultivator in the island.
The specific lands located in Barangay Manocmanoc, Boracay will be collectively owned by the Ati community.
It was in June this year when the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) initially planned to put 25 hectares of land in Boracay under the first phase of the agrarian reform program.
But after doing an actual ground validation on the island, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) finally turned over 7.96 hectares of land to DAR to be put under agrarian reform.
Despite that, only 3.2 of the 7.96 hectares where issued CLOA which was eventually distributed to the Ati by the President.
Seven claimants, however, expressed ownership of the said land.
This worries the Ati beneficiaries, fearing that this will bring them trouble and that the land will, eventually, be taken away from them by the claimants.
Despite that issue, DAR Secretary John Castriciones assures the Ati tribe of their right to the land.
“Walang dapat sila ikatakot kasi itong mga to, tax declarant lang sila. And as I said, ang tax declaration is not a full proof of ownership. It can (inaudible) Into a claim later on but that’s after 30 years when they can claim for a free patent,” Castriciones said.
The Secretary added that these claimants can longer contest the lands awarded by the government to the beneficiaries.
“Since it was already turned over to us, it’s no longer free for acquisition,” he explained.
Meanwhile, 439 Aklanon farmers were also given lands in various areas in Aklan.
Beneficiaries were also given garden kits and tools, and will undergo training to maximize the use of the land through agriculture.
The DAR is now looking into 14 hectares of land in Boracay to be given to other target beneficiaries on the island. – Vincent Arboleda