Duterte not urging Boracay residents to sell their land to firms — Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday denied President Rodrigo Duterte is encouraging Boracay residents to sell their titled land to big firms. 

"Hindi naman niya sinabing ibibigay niya so they can resell. He wants the indigenous people na bumalik sa kanilang katutubong lupa. Nais niyang mabuhay sila sa pamamaraan na nakagisnan nila. Nandoon ang possibility na kung ibebenta, at least makikinabang 'yung mga katutubo mismo," he said in a media briefing.

Duterte on Tuesday said he will put the island under land reform and distribute parcels of Boracay land to its residents. He said they can then earn money if they sell their title land to commercial companies.

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

Roque said Duterte wants to give 100 hectares of Boracay to residents because he doesn't want businessmen and hotel owners to benefit from the land.

"Ang sabi niya ibibigay niya ang pwedeng ibigay sa Boracay doon sa mga katutubo ng Boracay dahil ayaw niyang ang nakikinabang sa Boracay ay mga malalaking negosyante, malalaking resort owners," he said.

The spokesperson also said that at least the Boracay residents get to earn money if they do decide to sell their titled land.

"Sabi ng Pangulo, 'Kaya ko naman ipamimigay iyan, later on they may decide to sell, but at least they will benefit from the sale,'" Roque said.

The President earlier admitted his plan to limit commercial establishments in Boracay may be overturned in the future, but he will be pleased if natives in the island could earn from the land entitled to them.

The tourist destination has been closed since April 26 to make way for its rehabilitation after Duterte called Boracay a "cesspool." He then proposed to declare the island as land reform area to distribute land to the farmers.

But the President's decision to shut the island down was met with criticism after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) granted a provisional license to a Chinese firm to build a $500-million (P26 billion) hotel-casino there.