BORACAY ISLAND―President Rodrigo Duterte has reminded agrarian reform beneficiaries in Aklan, including the Ati of Boracay, to keep their land instead of selling it.
“Till the land, make it productive and when the progression period is over, maybe your children can sell it and it could be worth millions,” Duterte said in his speech during the distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award to the beneficiaries at the Manoc Manoc Covered Court in Boracay on Thursday night.
“There will be Ati here who will become rich someday,” he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday said President Duterte could ban casino operations in Boracay even without an executive order.
“With or without an EO, the President has the power and the tools to stop casino operations,” Guevarra told ABS-CBN News.
“The only advantage of an EO is that it sets a long-term policy and provides a formal framework for all government actions pertaining to the subject matter.”
A total of 623 CLOAs covering 274.0352 hectares of land under the Agrarian Reform Program were distributed to 484 beneficiaries from Boracay and mainland Malay and the towns of Buruanga and Tangalan, Aklan.
Duterte noted the importance of owning land to the beneficiaries who called it a “prized possession.”
“It could be worth millions if you want to build something,” he said.
Of the 623 certificates distributed, six land titles covering 3.2064 hectares of land were given to the 44 members of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization or BATO.
Meanwhile, in a speech by a BATO member delivered on behalf of their tribal chieftain Delsa Justo, the Ati community expressed their gratitude to the President for the land given them and for the rehabilitation of the island.
“We Ati are very grateful that our prayers to God have been answered, that our beloved island, which is slowly being destroyed, will now be restored,” an Ati member said.
The Ati expressed hope that with the additional land given to them, no trouble would arise.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said Thursday the Ati should not worry about their land ownership as “Boracay is government property.”
“The land that will be given to them is government-owned and they will not pay a single cent,” he said.