The Ati tribe of Boracay Island finally realized their lifelong dream to own the land where they and generations of their ancestors have lived.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in the island to distribute Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to the Ati tribe following his pronouncement during Boracay’s rehabilitation that the entire island will be declared as a land reform area.

The President urged them to “till the land, make it productive” during the 10 years from the date of award, when the land cannot be sold, mortagaged and encumbered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) chair was on hand to witness the historic handover of CLOAs led by the President and Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones at the Manocmanoc Covered Court.

Also present were BIATF co-chair Eduardo Ano, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bauista, Aklan Gov. Miraflores and Malay Acting Mayor Abram Sualog.

Cimatu said the occasion affirms that the rehabilitation of Boracay aims to benefit all Aklanons most especially the Atis who are the original inhabitants of the island.

“We join the Ati tribe and the ARBs in thanking the President for this gift. It is but fitting to cap the first phase of the island's rehab with the awarding of CLOAs that secure ownership of their land,” said Cimatu.

Five CLOAs were awarded to the ATI Tribal Organization of Boracay Island on behalf of its 44 members. The CLOAs were received by Delsa Justo, Evangeline Tamboon, Maria Tamboon, Susana Bartolome, Loreto Francisco and Guillermo Vicente, Jr.

CLOAs were also distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) from the municipalities of Malay, Buruanga and Tangalan in Aklan.

A total of 623 CLOAs were awarded to 484 ARBs covering 274.0352 hectares.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) facilitated the distribution of CLOAS following the President’s pronouncement to distribute the lands in Boracay through land reform.

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 407 dated June 14, 1990 or Accelerating the Acquisition and Distribution of Agricultural Lands, Pasture Lands, Fishponds, Agroforestry Lands and other Lands of the Public Domain Suitable for Agriculture, all government instrumentalities including the DENR shall immediately execute Deeds of Transfer in favor of the Republic of the Philippines as represented by the Department of Agrarian Reform and surrender to the latter department all landholdings, suitable for agriculture including all pertinent ownership documents in their custody to effect the transfer of ownership.

Further, Presidential Proclamation 1064 classifies “Boracay Island into forestland (protection purposes) and agricultural land (alienable and disposable) pursuant to Presidential Decree 705 or the revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.”

To process the CLOAs, the DENR and DAR conducted a joint validation and ground survey of Boracay Island. The DENR then issued a Deed of Transfer to DAR to signify that DENR is transferring its jurisdiction to title the land to DAR.

A CLOA is a tenurial instrument showing ownership of the land granted or awarded to the beneficiary by DAR. It prohibits the sale or lease of the land for at least 10 years.

As opposed to a TCT or Transfer Certificate of Title which is issued by the DENR to occupants of alienable and disposable lands, a CLOA is distributed to the occupants of a land by virtue of land reform.

According to the Department of Agrarian Reform, the acquisition and distribution of lands will secure the tenure of farmers over the lands they till. With the ownership, the farmers can freely plan the development and harness the potentials of these lands thus optimizing their productivity.