Judge opts out of Boracay case
ILOILO CITY — The judge presiding over a case aimed at stopping the demolition of houses and business establishments violating beach easement rules on Boracay Island inhibited himself from hearing the case.
In a two-page order on Nov. 18, Judge Ronald Exmundo of the Kalibo, Aklan Regional Trial Court Branch 7, inhibited himself from the case to “avoid perception” of his being biased or partial.
Exmundo cited a motion of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Office of the Solicitor General, alleging that the judge showed bias to the property owners by issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the demolition.
Property owners of 10 commercial and residential buildings on Bulabog beach are contesting the demolition order issued by the local government of Malay, which is being implemented by the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group.
The structures allegedly violate the 30-meter beach easement which has been strictly implemented when the island was closed to tourists for six months from April 26 to Oct. 25 last year.
But the owners are questioning the demolition orders and the boundary measurements that supposedly show their violations.
They said they started to invest and put up structures after the local government and other agencies issued them building permits and other clearances, only to be told later that they were violating the easement rule.
Exmundo issued on Oct. 15 a 20-day TRO directing the local government of Malay to “cease and desist” from implementing the March 25, 2019, and other demolition orders covering the 10 structures.
The TRO lapsed on Nov. 4, paving the way for the continuation of the demolition, despite appeals of property owners to hold the demolition until the court resolves their petition for the issuance of a preliminary injunction.
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