Saturday, August 15, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES [ BusinessWorld Online ]
The processing of applications and issuance of new tax declarations for businesses in Boracay Island in Aklan will be suspended to give way to a cadastral survey to be conducted by the Environment department.
In a press release on Friday, Environment Secretary Jose L. Atienza, Jr. said "we will be coordinating with the municipal assessor of Malay, [Aklan] to stop accepting and processing new applications for tax declarations because this is the main source of one of our major problems here in Boracay."
Last week, the department began a cadastral survey to delineate public from private lands, the latter presently covered by tax declarations. "The cadastral survey is one step we have taken so that we can have establishing points for what we have been trying to resolve in Boracay," Mr. Atienza said.
The island resort, which is world-renowned for its white sand beach, continues to suffer from environmental degradation due to unregulated development, he added.
About 12,000 people live in three baranggays in the island.
"In five months’ time we will finish that survey," Mr. Atienza said in a phone interview on Friday.
Meeting them for the second time last week, Mr. Atienza told Boracay stakeholders "I am ready to listen to you if you have any suggestion before we formulate the guidelines."
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the world-famous Boracay island is part of the public domain. As such, private landowners in the area cannot get titles to their properties, but will be allowed to operate after securing tax declarations.
"Those who are already doing business there will be protected [by the freeze in the issuance of new tax declarations]," Mr. Atienza said.
The Supreme Court upheld the validity of Presidential Proclamation 1064 classifying Boracay into a forest reserve and agricultural land.
Mr. Atienza said in the phone interview that the Environment department targets protecting the 400 hectares of forest cover remaining in the 1,083-hectare island.
Officials of Boracay Foundation, Inc., a group of businessmen in Boracay, were unavailable for comment. — Neil Jerome C. Morales