DA: Boracay farmers, fisherfolk can loan by next week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) — The Department of Agriculture's loaning program for farmers and fisherfolk affected by the Boracay closure will be ready as early as next week, Secretary Manny Piñol said Friday.

Piñol said the DA was offering two programs: the first a production loan with a ₱39 million budget, and another called the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance program.

Under the production loan, farmers could borrow between ₱15,000 to ₱50,000.

"Ibig sabihin gusto mong magtanim ng palay pero wala kang pambili ng binhi, access mo lang. It's 6 percent interest per annum, walang collateral," said Piñol.

[Translation: That means if you want to plant rice but you don't have money to buy seeds, you can access it. It's 6 percent interest per annum, no collateral.]

"The SURE program gives ₱25,000 to a farmer family or a fisherfolk family so that they will be able to tide over the period na wala silang [where they don't have] income," he continued.

 

In 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation No.1064 classifying Boracay into forestland and agricultural land. The Supreme Court upheld the proclamation in 2008.

The 1,028-hectare island was classified into two areas: 400 hectares (40 percent) of Boracay forestlands were for "protection purposes," while the 628-hectare agricultural land (60 percent) was "alienable and disposable."

According to its website, the province of Aklan produces rice, coconut, bananas, mangoes, rambutan, lanzones, and fiber crops. It also has a total fishpond area of over 7,800 hectares.

Boracay is located in Malay, a first class municipality in Aklan.

The loaning program is only one of the government's plans to assist residents of Boracay during its six-month closure beginning on April 26.

A ₱2-billion calamity fund is also expected to assist more than 35,000 displaced workers.

The controversial shutdown comes amid efforts to clean up the island destination. President Rodrigo Duterte in February called it "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if its pollution problem went unsolved.

Duterte also considered making the island a land reform area for farmers after its rehabilitation.

Related: Duterte mulls giving Boracay land to farmers

Piñol maintained that this statement was not official and it was just a go-signal to conduct a study on agrarian reform in Boracay.

"May mga statements si Pangulong Duterte na minsan intriga... But at the end of the day, the president listens to people who conduct complete staff work to help him make a final decision," said Piñol.

"I'm not worried at all... yung ganyang issue actually kailangan pa ng malalim na pagsusuri yan."

[Sometimes President Duterte makes statements that cause intrigue... But at the end of the day, the president listens to people who conduct complete staff work to help him make a final decision. I'm not worried at all... This issue still needs deeper assessment.]