Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Boracay For Sale

There's trouble brewing in paradise. For quite some time now, resort owners in Boracay have been up in protest against Presidential Proclamation 1064 which would open up their lands to public bidding. Philippine Star today has a news story on the controversy.

Sometime in May 2006, President Arroyo signed Proclamation 1064 declaring 628 hectares or 60% of the 1,032-hectare island as "alienable and disposable" land. The island's remaining 40% land area was categorized as "forest reserves, protected areas and swamps." Before the said Proclamation was issued, private ownership of lots in Boracay was technically illegal under Proclamation 1801 issued by the late President Ferdinand Marcos on November 10, 1978. Mostly, resort operators in Boracay relied on tax declarations as their proof of ownership, with some paying real estate taxes for their lots for more than 30 years already. Due to the booming tourism industry, real estate prices have been steadily rising in the past years with beachfront lots located along Boracay's world-famous 5-kilometer White Beach now priced at P30,000 per square meter. Last year alone, nearly half a million tourists visited Boracay bringing in P9.182 billion in revenues.

Understandably, long-time resort owners in Boracay are upset. Most have already invested heavily in developing their lots and with the MalacaƱang order, they will now be asked to bid for the land that they have developed and invested in for years. Leading the opposition to Proclamation 1064 is the Boracay Eminent Persons Group, a group of resort owners and restaurant operations headed by Orlando Sacay. Sacay claims that the land claimants would rather title their lands through judicial recognition rather than public bidding. They also want government to instead wait for the Supreme Court to rule on a lower court order recognized the right of land claimants in Boracay to have their lots titled.

But according to Tourism Region 6 Director Edwin Trompeta, Proclamation 1064 seeks to provide stability and security for investors on the island. He also claims that the re-categorization and titling of lots would also settle land ownership disputes in Boracay and ensure that parts of the island would be preserved and protected.

The way I see it, settling land ownership claims in Boracay thru judicial fiat will be problematic. For one, it will take longer to title out parcels of land individually and it may result in more confusion. I think government must also explain to the stakeholders and the affected resort owners that they will be given just compensation for the improvements they made to the land in case they lose in the auction. I tend to favor Proclamation 1064 because it will bring order to the otherwise convoluted and "magulo" land ownership set up in Boracay. Moreover, if lots are titled in Boracay, residents and resort owners there can already use their property as collateral if they want to borrow money from the bank.


Anonymous said...

I was in Boracay last April 30,2006 and Smart Communications was even asking for passport.

I thought Bamboo(the spoiled brat) was already the head of the newly Independent State of Boracay.

What a stupid idea to market the Smart Communications' product as passport to Boracay.

On that midnight, OO17H 01May2006 , I declared BORACAY REPUBLIC!

Keith Allen said...

There are so many Boracay lots for sale nowadays, I can't seem to find the right property to buy.