ILOILO CITY — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested a German and three others allegedly occupying a protected forestland in Boracay Island, the country’s most famous beach destination in Malay town, Aklan province.
The German who was arrested is 69-year-old Ludwig August Borchers. Also arrested were 29-year-olds Gerald Alapag and Dhelmar Evangelio as well as 42-year-old Mark Bernard Alcantara. All three are residents of Balabag village.
The NBI formally filed charges against the four in violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines before the Aklan Provincial Prosecutors Office in Kalibo town Wednesday, September 22.
“They built commercial establishments in the forestland owned by the state,” said Special Investigator Rizaldy Rivera of NBI Central Office’s Environment Crime Division.
In their defense, the four claimed to have tax declarations and building permits issued by the local government of Malay while another one had a deed of sale from the alleged previous owner.
“They may claim possession of the land, but it is illegal to occupy forestland,” Rivera told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.
The government allows legal presence of structures along the forestland if a Forest Landuse Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) is issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Rivera pointed out it was DENR that provided NBI the information of the four illegal occupants as some were already issued notices and orders to vacate, but still chose to stay.
“Even without the DENR, the NBI can still arrest them because that is illegal,” Rivera added.
Last year, the NBI Environment Crime Division also arrested 15 individuals in Boracay for the same violations.