Duterte: Boracay residents to earn if they sell their titled lands to big firms

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Tourists will have to bid a temporary goodbye to Boracay as the government ordered its closure starting April 26, for a maximum period of six months.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 13) —  President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday explained why he wants to put the island of Boracay under land reform, and distribute the parcels of land to the residents.

"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 in the oath-taking of newly-elected barangay officials of Region III Tuesday afternoon.

[Translation: So I will give the land to the natives, so by the time they will have businesses of their own and other big businesses will enter, they will have land to sell. My consolation is they will get the huge sum of money.]

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.

Saving Boracay: Timeline, what to expect

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 (₱26 billion) hotel-casino there.

The President 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.

"Sabi ko, eventually because of money, bibigay' yan. Lalo 'yan kung wala na kami. Ibigay ko na ngayon sa mga natives doon by way of land reform. Alam mo bakit? Pagdating ng panahon, (firms) will eat up (the) barangay at mag-establish 'yan ng mga resorts diyan," he explained.

[Translation: I said, eventually because of money, Boracay will give in, especially once we're out of the picture. So I will give the land to the natives by way of land reform. You know why? When the time comes, firms will eat up the barangay and they will establish resorts there.]

Duterte previously said Congress will decide if businesses will keep an area in the island for commercial purposes.

"I would just suggest that if you really want to maintain the commercial quality of that place, maybe you can cut a strip. An inland," he said.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.