'Tumandoks' told to vacate Boracay forestland

Published October 14, 2021, 3:28 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is urging forestland residents of world-famous Boracay Island to vacate before they can be arrested and prosecuted for illegally occupying government-owned land.

“The local residents should voluntarily vacate. Whatever their reasons, they shouldn’t be there,” said Special Investigator Rizaldy Rivera of NBI-Environment Crime Division.

According to Rivera, tumandoks (native settlers) previously claimed they can stay in the forestland since they have tax declarations and are covered by a certain provisionary law.

The Bolabog Beach is one of the beaches of Boracay Island. (Tara Yap/File/Manila Bulletin)

“But that’s against the law,” Rivera told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.

This was after the NBI arrested a German and three others for not heeding the call to vacate their tourism-related establishments along Boracay’s forestland last September.

Rivera said that with the forestland violators, the NBI is coordinating with Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) that is led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Out of the 117 residential structures illegally occupying Boracay’s forestlands, BIARMG records show that 71 have already vacated. There are still 46 illegal occupants.

Meanwhile, Rivera assured that NBI will continue its mandate to arrest Boracay’s environmental violators as part of the Duterte administration’s massive crackdown and subsequent rehabilitation program.