DENR seeks court order on Korean restaurantBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday filed a complaint before the Batangas prosecutor’s office seeking to secure a court order to compel a Korean company to demolish the permanent structure it had constructed in Taal lake.
A floating restaurant operated by the Taal Volcano Jung Ang Leisure and Resort Inc., which is owned by the Jung Ang Interventure Corp., was earlier closed down after the DENR Taal Volcano Protected Landscape found that it violated environmental laws, such as operating without a proper waste disposal system.
The company also allegedly did not have a building and business permit from the municipal government of Talisay, Batangas.
The DENR and the Task Force Taal Lake, which operates under the Batangas provincial government, began tearing down on Wednesday the concrete bridge and a breakwater, cutting off access to the two-storey floating restaurant.
Laudemir Salac, Protected Area superintendent and Community Environment and Natural Resources officer, said the dismantling of the main structure would resume next week, although they hoped the court by then would have issued an order against the Korean company to tear down its own structure.
Salac said the DENR, in a complaint filed before the Batangas provincial prosecutor’s office on Friday, accused the Korean company of violating the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.
The violation carried a penalty of imprisonment of one to six years and a fine of P5,000 to P500,000.
Salac said they were hoping the prosecutor’s office would find merit in the complaint and lodge it immediately before the court which, in turn, would issue an order for the Korean firm to itself demolish the floating restaurant.
“Just for two days since we started the dismantling, it already cost us around P200,000. We will ask the company to reimburse the government the money it spent on the demolition,” Salac said in a phone interview.
Aside from the restaurant, Salac said the company had also reclaimed some 20 square meters of the lake to build a wharf. He said the restaurant also built koi ponds, which posed danger to the lake ecosystem should the koi, an alien specie in the lake, happen to escape into the water body. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had began removing the koi fish.
The Inquirer tried to seek comment from the Korean company but its manager, Kris Byun, by phone, said she was busy and declined to grant an interview.
“Business and tourism requires a balancing act. We can never sacrifice the environment,” Salac said.
The DENR included in the charges against the Korean company a penalty to pay damages to the government and to rehabilitate that portion of the lake where the floating restaurant was built on.