628.96 hectares in Boracay can be distributed PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 May 2018 15:13

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… 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, the Holy Bible).

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BUSINESSMEN ENGAGED IN BUSINESS IN BORACAY FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME NOW CAN’T TITLE ANY LANDS IN THE ISLAND:  Pursuant to the 2008 decision of the Supreme Court on Boracay Island, it should be very clear that the tribunal did not allow the many businessmen and countless other individuals who have been in possession of choice lots in the world-class tourist destination to acquire land titles over the parcels they have been occupying.

In the cases of “Secretary of the DENR, et. al. vs. Mayor Jose Yap, et. al.” G. R. No. No. 167707, October 08, 2008, and “Dr. Orlando Sacay, et. al. vs. Secretary of the DENR, et. al.”, G.R. No. 173775, October 08, 2008, the Supreme Court declared that the businessmen and other personalities who petitioned the court to allow them to acquire land titles over choice lands in Boracay are not qualified to become owners of those lands, under the law.

What were the court’s reasons for this? First, the Court said that when the businessmen first entered Boracay and appropriated for themselves the various lots they found vacant, the whole island was still an “unclassified public forest”—or a piece of property which only the government can own. As a result, no private individual can ever own any part of the island, no matter how long they may have been in possession of the lands in Boracay.

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SPENDING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS TO DEVELOP BORACAY NOT A GROUND FOR ISSUING OF TITLES:  Second, the Supreme Court ruled that the businessmen who had petitioned to be given land titles over the lands they have occupied in Boracay failed to show strong proof that their occupancy of the lands started since time immemorial, or, in legal contemplation, since June 12, 1945.

The Court explained in this regard that there is a need, under the law, for anyone wanting to register himself as the titled owner of any piece of land in Boracay to show proof of his—or his predecessors’—occupancy of the land since June 12, 1945. If there is no proof to this effect in favor of the person applying for a title in Boracay, or in favor of his predecessors-in-interest,  he will not be allowed to secure any such title.

Third, the Court brushed aside claims by the petitioning businessmen that they are already entitled to be recognized as titled owners of lands in Boracay on account of their having already spent hundreds of millions to develop the island. The tribunal said expenditures for the development of the island which were made by businessmen in the pursuit of their trade could  never be a basis to issue them any land title.

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628.96 HECTARES IN BORACAY CAN BE DISTRIBUTED: But be that as it may, the Supreme Court recognized the proclamation (Proclamation 1064) which President Arroyo issued in 2006 in which some 400 hectares of lands in Boracay were set aside as forest reserve (that will remain under government’s ownership), and the conversion of 628.96 hectares of lands in the island as agricultural lands, capable of being disposed of in favor of qualified applicants.

Proclamation 1064 is valid and binding, since it was issued in accordance with law, the Supreme Court added. It was emphasized by the tribunal, however, that the distribution of the 628.96 hectares declared as agricultural lands should adhere strictly to the requirements of existing laws on land distribution. This would mean that those who have been disqualified by the Supreme Court from acquiring any title to any land in Boracay remains to be disqualified.

It would also appear that the 628.96 hectares of land in Boracay which can be distributed can only be given to other possible interested parties (like the farmers and residents in the island, as what President Duterte said earlier), and not to the businessmen already disqualified by the court (even if certain rights can still be allowed them at this point).

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FOR QUESTIONS, REACTIONS: If anyone would like to ask me any question about what the burning issues of the  day mean, or what we have discussed here, or to consult on any problem, whatever it maybe,please call 0917 984 24 68, or email me at batasmauricio@yahoo.com, or post your concerns at www.facebook.com/attybatas.  Promise, I will answer right away. Thank God in the Name of Jesus, Amen!