Boracay official: No productive agricultural land in Boracay

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Boracay, Aklan (CNN Philippines, April 16) — Despite President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that he wants to put Boracay under land reform, a local official says there is no productive agricultural land in Boracay.

Rowen Aguirre, municipal executive assistant for Boracay affairs, explained some locals used to plant coconuts, corn, and other root crops in the island.

However, Aguirre said Boracay is not suitable for rice farming because it is an island and has no irrigation system.

When tourist arrivals in the island increased, Aguirre explained many locals stopped farming and opted to work in the tourism industry instead.

He added the municipal government never considered Boracay part of the government's agrarian reform program.

"Boracay never has any significant farmland. Merong kakaunti, but I don't think it will produce enough even to supply the whole island of Boracay...wala nang nagfafarm dito kasi nga mas madali mag-cater sa tourism...kasi sa totoo lang mahirap magfarm. Nakabilad ka sa araw buong araw, magkano naman kikitain mo?" he said.

[Translation: Boracay never has any significant farmland. There are a few, but I don't think it will produce enough even to supply the whole island of Boracay...no one farms here because it's easier to cater to tourism...because in reality, it's difficult to farm. You're under the sun the whole day, and you earn so little.]

Residents that used to plant corn and root crops said the places where they used to plant crops have already been turned into a residential area.

Meanwhile, Aguirre said talks of closing Boracay and, now, turning the area into an agricultural one are sowing anxiety to the island's locals.

He said, "We are already up to here in anxiety and stress... hindi naman kami mga criminal dito, why are we being treated like that? Everybody seems to think lahat kami dito ay guilty, samantalang marami naman dito nagcomply. We complied religiously with all the regulations and we're being treated the same as those who violated."

[Translation: We are already up to here in anxiety and stress... we are not criminals here, why are we being treated like that? Everybody seems to think that we're all guilty, when a lot of people here are complying. We complied religiously with all the regulations ans we're being treated the same as those who violated.]

On Tuesday, an inter-agency meeting will be held in Boracay to discuss the government's plans for the island and its people.