Duterte eyes committee to identify 'rightful owners' of Boracay lands
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said a committee may need to be formed to determine who owns parcels of land in Boracay, currently closed to tourists for rehabilitation.
"Now the problem is how to determine who owns what. That's the problem now so there has to be a committee to be fair to everybody, from the local government then from the origins of any titles there," said Duterte on Wednesday, July 4.
He was speaking in front of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and other Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) personnel during the agency's founding anniversary in Quezon City.
"Allow government to clean it and after that I will return Boracay to its rightful owners," he said.
The President repeated that Boracay is mostly agricultural land and forestland, saying it has "never been opened to any commercial exploitation." (READ: Boracay natives can sell land to big firms, if they want – Duterte)
While forestland and agricultural land means these are controlled by the government, there is an exception. Lands for which titles were issued before June 12, 1945, based on the registration code of the Philippines, are exempt from government control.
Duterte previously said he would leave it to Congress to delineate a "strip of land" for commercial purposes in the world-famous island.