NBI files charges vs Aklan execs, Boracay resort owners
Dozens of local government officials of Aklan province and business owners, including foreigners, are facing a string of criminal charges in the Department of Justice for their supposed complicity in the destruction of Boracay Island.
The five separate complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Thursday and Friday came nearly three months after the country’s premier tourist destination was shut down on orders of President Duterte on April 26.
Describing its once-pristine white sand beach as a “cesspool,” Mr. Duterte closed the entire island resort to tourists for a six-month rehabilitation program, leaving tens of thousands of residents without work and livelihood.
“The cases were filed by the NBI task force which was directed to look into the violations (of environmental laws) in Boracay,” said acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.
Named respondents were Malay town Mayor Ceciro Cawaling, his predecessor John Yap, Malay municipal engineer Elizer Casidsid, Kalibo municipal assessor Erlinda Casimero and Aklan provincial assessor Kokoy Soguilon.
Also charged were Malay building official Azor Gelito, Aklan local assessment operations officer Roger Rembulat, Malay zoning administrator Alma Belejerdo, Boracay Island chief operations officer Glenn Sacapano, Malay municipal development guidelines chief Glenn Sacapano, and former Aklan provincial officials Enrique Claudio, Vicente Teodecio, Milagros Azarcon and Ramon Panagsagan.
Likewise included in the complaint were the executives of resort operators Yooringa Corp., Boracay Tanawin Properties Inc., Denichi Boracay Corp., Correos Internacionale Inc., Seven Seas Boracay Properties Inc., and Boracay Island West Cove Management Philippines Inc.
They were accused of violating environmental laws, Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Republic Act No. 7160, more popularly known as the Local Government Code of 1991.
“Years of indiscriminate development have led to environmental degradation, pollution and the depletion and destruction of the island’s biodiversity,” read a portion of the complaint filed by the NBI’s Environmental Crime Division.
It said Cawaling and the other local officials had failed to implement the laws, such as the submission of required documents for the sale of lands and the construction of permanent structures in declared forest lands in Boracay.
“Cawaling has assisted, aided and/or abetted Denichi in the unlawful occupation of the forestlands,” the NBI said.
“(He) should have exercised caution in the indiscriminate issuance of building permits and tax declarations of his municipal engineer and assessor,” it added.
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