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For violating Forestry Code, NBI files complaints vs Boracay resorts

Among them was a hotel owned by a cousin of ex-President Aquino
/ 07:17 PM November 19, 2018

Tourists are seen along the beach on the Philippine island of Boracay on October 27, 2018. (Photo by NOEL CELIS / AFP)

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) a criminal complaint against a second cousin of former President Benigno S. Aquino III for alleged violation of environmental laws in Boracay.

Executives of the Playa Asya Resort Inc. (an affiliate of Gorgeous Holdings Incorporated) face violation of the Forestry Code, based on the complaint filed by the NBI Task Force Boracay.

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Named respondents in the complaint were Ramon O. Cojuangco Jr. president of Playa Asya, which operates Asya Boracay and Asya Premier Suites, and a second cousin of the former Philippine leader; Maria Theresa E. Cojuangco, treasurer and director of Playa Asya; Arturo B. Diago, treasurer of Gorgerous Holdings; and Ma. Auxiliadora E. Co, director and stockholder of Playa Asya and Gorgeous Holdings.

The NBI Task Force Boracay also filed a similar complaint against SkyGarden De Boracay in Barangay Balabag and its officers, namely: Philip L. Chua, Marilyn S. Wong, Fernando A. Soriano, and Chinese nationals Yong Wan and Lijuan Wan; and Kingfisher’s Farm, owned by architect Lara Arac-Salaver, in Barangay Manoc-Manoc, Boracay.

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Based on the separate complaints, which copy was only made available to the media on Monday, the establishments illegally occupied forest lands. Building permanent structures on forest lands is prohibited under the law.

“It is established that it has no legitimate title to speak of when it encroached on forestland…,” read the complaint.

“There is no question that portion of the land where Asya Premier Suites was constructed is classified as a forest land under Presidential proclamation 1064. The investors of occupants and structure within forestland in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, which the Enforcement Section of CENRO Boracay submitted to the DENR, shows that Asya Premier Suites has constructed six structures, two of which are permanent structures with a total area of 4,511 square meters and a total of 155 square meters are of temporary structures or a total of 4,666 square meters,” the complaint further stated.

Earlier, acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon said the complaints have already been docketed to be assigned to prosecutors for the conduct of preliminary investigation.

In April, Boracay was closed to undergo six-month rehabilitation amid the degradation of the island’s environment. The world-famous travel destination was reopened last month but under strict monitoring of the government. /kga

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