As Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, I will seek for a total freeze on the acceptance and processing of new applications for tax declaration covering properties in Boracay Island.
We will be coordinating with the municipal assessor of Malay, Aklan to stop accepting and processing new applications for tax declaration because this is the main source of unjustified land claims in the Island.
At the same time, we announced that this week will be the start of the cadastral survey for the whole island. The cadastral survey is one step we have taken so that we can have establishing points for what we have been trying to resolve in Boracay.
Meeting the stakeholders for the second time, I encouraged the group comprised mostly of investors to come up with suggestions on how to best address the various issues facing the world-renowned island resort which is experiencing continuing environmental degradation due to unregulated development.
For the stakeholders, I am ready to listen to you if you have any suggestions before we even formulate the guidelines. Because the moment we have already finalized the guidelines, then the full letter of the law should be implemented.
Relative to this, I asked Dr. Orlando Sacay, former president of the Boracay Foundation, Inc., to designate their representatives to the committee that will be created to thresh out the issues and solutions. I also announced the designation of DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio and DENR Assistant Secretary Juan Miguel Cuna as the new chair and vice-chair of the said committee.
While the DENR was tasked to implement the law, I told the investors that I would not be too drastic as to “affect your investments too much.” On the other hand, I stressed that there are minimum steps that must also be taken to substantially comply with the intentions of the law and the decision of the Supreme Court.
During my recent stay in Boracay, I also noted the on-going construction of various structures in the island. As we talk here, I still see construction going on in the forested areas. This is what I mean by continuing violation, continuing degradation, in total violation of what the SC has already declared. For this, I sought the help of the stakeholders to stop all these constructions because they will not be included in the solutions we are looking for, if they insist on violating the law.
We are trying to be reasonable but we will not allow the continuing violation of what has already been defined by the Supreme Court. I also warned the investors that unless they are able to correct what has already been practiced, they will lose everything they have invested. If we lose Boracay due to abuse and degradation,then the main reason would be the anarchy in the building of structures which should not have been built at all.
Present during the meeting include officers and representatives from various local organizations, such as the Boracay Foundation, Inc., Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Land Owners’ Association, and other hotel and resort owners.