Boracay natives can sell land to big firms, if they want – Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Under President Rodrigo Duterte's planned "land reform" in Boracay, big businesses may eventually end up owning the lots given to local farmers.

On Tuesday, June 12, Duterte said he wants Boracay natives who are given land to be able to sell it to big firms so they can have money to improve their lives. (READ: Boracay cleanup 'not for the rich', says Duterte)

"Ibigay ko doon sa mga natives so by the time na magnegosyo na and the big business would go in, hawak na nila ang titulo at puwede na nilang ipagbili. Ang consolation ko is makahawak sila ng pera na malaki," said Duterte.

(I will give it to the natives so by the time it's open for business and the big businesses would go in, they are already holding the title and they can sell it. My consolation is that they would be able to get hold of a large amount of money.)

"Even for a brief moment in time, they each have P500 [thousand], P1 million, P800,000. For me, it's even. At least everyone got a taste," he added in Filipino.

His latest pronouncement contradicted his statement over a week ago, when he said that he would award the land to farmers in Boracay under the land reform program because if not, "those with money will take the land and build resorts." (READ: Boracay cleanup 'not for rich,' says Duterte)

"So ibigay ko na iyan [lupa] sa mga tao for agriculture purpose. Kung hindi, kukunin ng mga may pera iyan, gawan nila iyan ng resort (I will give the land to the people for agricultural purposes. If not, the rich will take them, and they will build resorts)," he said in a news briefing upon his arrival from an official visit to South Korea on June 3.

Duterte had also previously said he would put Boracay under the land reform program because he wanted to limit commercial establishments in the island that cause environmental problems.

He had also left it up to Congress to allot a strip of land for commercial establishments in order to retain some tourist activity in the world-famous beach destination.

Rules on selling agri land

The transfer of ownership of land under the government's agrarian reform program from farmer to investor is governed by regulations and requirements imposed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

These regulations are meant to ensure, for instance, that the transfer of land is not being made through coercion.

According to DAR's Administrative Order No. 6 series of 2016, agricultural land may not be sold to a private person if the person will end up owning more than 5 hectares of agricultural land after the transaction.

"As a general rule, the transfer of ownership of all agricultural lands to a private person whose total ownership of agricultural lands after the transaction shall exceed five (5) hectares is prohibited. In addition, no Awarded Land may be transferred during the holding period," reads Section 3, Article II of the order.

No agricultural land may also be sold during the 10-year holding period (starting from when the title was issued to the beneficiary) and until the full payment of the amortization for the land.

In his speech on Tuesday, Duterte also erroneously referred to Boracay natives as "Mangyans," an ethnic tribe found in Mindoro in Luzon. The indigenous group native to Boracay are the Ati. –

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at