Boracay resort ordered demolishedBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
ILOILO CITY—The Department of Interior and Local Government recently ordered the mayor of the town with jurisdiction over Boracay Island to enforce a recommendation to demolish a resort that had encroached on a no-build zone in the island made world-famous by its white sand beach.
In an order dated June 18, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo directed John Yap, mayor of Malay town that has jurisdiction over Boracay, to carry out a recommendation by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to demolish illegal structures of Boracay West Cove Resort.
Robredo’s order, received by the mayor’s office on July 5, cited a letter from Environment Secretary Ramon Paje recommending the suspension or cancellation of permits given to West Cove, including a certificate of accreditation from the Department of Tourism.
The DENR also recommended collecting fines from the resort for violations of environmental and local laws.
Quoting a DENR report, Robredo said West Cove built structures in areas exceeding the 998 square meters covered by the Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) issued by the DENR to the resort in 2009 during the term of then Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza.
A FLAgT allows the temporary use, occupation and development of any forest land for tourism purposes for a period of 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.
The agreement covers forest lands to be used for bathing, campsites, ecotourism destinations, hotel sites and other tourism purposes.
Yap confirmed receiving the order but would not provide details on how and when the order would be implemented.
The municipal government closed the resort on June 7 last year for lack of business, building and occupancy permits.
It had noted that the building, operation and expansion of the resort since 2007 were violations of the municipal zoning ordinance because it sits on a no-build zone.
The resort has villas, hugs a cliff and sits on a rock formation at Diniwid Beach in Barangay Yapak, an area on the northern tip of the 1,032-hectare island.
But the resort resumed operations after the Court of Appeals granted the resort’s petition for the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the Malay town closure order.
Resort owner Crisostomo Aquino also asked the appellate court to order municipal officials and other respondents to pay damages amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos in lost revenues resulting from canceled tourist bookings.
Aquino said he had no knowledge of Robredo’s order but denied that he had developed areas not covered by the FLAgT. He said he had a pending application for the expansion of the coverage area by another 10,000 sq m.
“They can come here and measure the areas developed. I have committed no violations unlike others here. Why pick on me?” Aquino said in a telephone interview on Friday.