Boracay Island is Philippine’s hottest tourist destination. The island receives millions of tourists every year which is about one sixth of the country’s total. But there is trouble brewing in paradise. Expat investors feel no longer safe on Boracay as land grab related violence heats up.
The Boracay Land Owners’ Association held a press conference in Hong Kong this week to draw international attention to their ongoing battle with the Philippine government. Their prime objective is to overturn a 2006 move made by the Philippine government declaring that the whole island belongs to the state.
Many expat investors have owned their properties for many years. They paid good hard cash to own a piece of island paradise and now they fear losing it all to the government.
Reports also talk of increased violence on the island related to property disputes. A lot of fights are happening and that is not a good thing for a popular island destination. Once word gets out that there are serious problems, tourists will no longer feel safe enough to come back to Boracay.
It seems that paradise has turned into a hell hole. The group is now taking the whole matter against the government into the Supreme Court to put a stop to all the fighting and bickering once and for all.
Interesting enough, the Philippine government declines they ever put claims on private land on the island and that the whole land grab is all but an illusion.
Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said the claim by the Boracay Land Owners’ Association was misguided.
This whole episode certainly leaves a bitter by-taste for any would-be investor to the region. It also doesn’t help that an Australian resort owner was held hostage last week by armed men when they forced their way into the resort because of a land dispute. This certainly reeks of wild west behaviour where everybody can do as they please.
The question remains for outsiders watching the whole spectacle, are these allegations against the government correct, or was the whole situation blown out of context?
Photo credits: hbm