Wealthy Politicians Thirst for Boracay Land Sunday, June 05, 2005 Boracay Island in the Philippines is a goldmine for tourism. In as recent as the 1980s, Boracay, without even electric power had been considered a paradise island. Less than four miles wide, Boracay has been home to indigenous people for centuries. In recent times, Boracay has been known to be occupied by three small indigenous groups consisting of hundreds of families. Within the past decade, Boracay has sprouted to be a major tourist attraction. Foreigners from all over the world and Filipinos alike own businesses on the island. Americans, Asians, Australians, Europeans, and Filipinos all conduct business together side by side on the island, and are having a great time in the process. The little island of Boracay is teeming year-round with tourists partying day and night. Tourists can enjoy Boracay, and visit hotspots such as the Hey Jude Bar while relaxing at lodges such as the Hey Jude Resort. Both are owned by a Filipino-American from Miami. Recently Boracay has been under legal attack. According to Environment Secretary, Michael Defensor, Boracay has not been classified for ownership. Defensor asserted that legally, the land can not be, and therefore is not owned by anybody. Defensor asserted that the land on Boracay is legally unclassified public property. According to Defensor, unclassified public property legally remains incapable of being transferred (bought or sold). Before land can be owned, the government must classify land, and auction it off. Defensor said that by law, forest lands or forest reserves (unclassified land) could not be appropriated for private use or possession. Unclassified land such as Boracay must be reclassified to be considered disposable and alienable (available to be privately owned). Upon classification (titlement), the barren land is auctioned off by the government to the highest bidder. Regrettably, Boracay land is not so barren. Resorts and businesses have been built all over the Boracay. Business owners and indigenous people alike are outraged. They claim that their land was titled, and their ownership of the land is completely legal. Defensor is allegedly creating legal loopholes to make land that is already owned, available for new ownership. It is a cliché story of the business man refusing to sell his land while the greedy industrialist will stop at nothing to acquire it. Defensor is allegedly manipulating politics to usurp very lucrative land for rich congressmen and big industry. They want to be the occupants of this land. Therefore, they will take the land by force. Upon classification, land on Boracay will be auctioned off by the government. Defensor has proposed that the current occupants be granted the privilege of matching the highest bid for the land when it is auctioned off. Unfortunately, if the current occupant cannot match the highest bid, they will loose the property. If the occupant does match the highest bid, they stand to loose a great deal of money to keep property they already paid for. Defensor has had a history of being accused of racism against indigenous Filipinos. Environmental leaders such as, Tito Fiel, accused Defensor of being anti-indigenous people. He stated that Defensor has no respect for the land that indigenous people inhabit as their ancestral home. Defensor allegedly treats these natives as squatters. Defensor favored the relocation of indigenous people who legally owned titled ancestral lands just to give way to big foreign business interests and make land available to elitist congressmen. Defensor supported the relocation of indigenous land owners in Mt. Canatuan in favor of the firm, TVIRDP. The Canadian mining firm, TVI Resource Development Philippines, continuously spread slanderous words and lies against an indigenous Filipino land owner. A native that legally and legitimately owned the titled land of his ancestral domain in Mt. Canatuan. Indigenous Filipino land owners were threatened to “back off or else they will be arrested” if they continued to oppose large scale mining of the land of their ancestors - Mt. Canatuan. Incidentally, Mt. Cantuan happens to be a goldmine. Literally. www.tvicanatuan.com. It seems that all a corrupt politician has to do to usurp very lucrative land, is to claim that the land has not been classified for ownership (titled). Therefore, the government canrelocate whoever is on it, and auction it off to wealthy industrialists. Two goldmines in their own right, Boracay and Mt. Cantuan are prime examples of rich lands that a rich politician will stop at nothing to claim for himself. There is fierce dispute that Defensor’s claims about these lands being unclassified are completely illegitimate.