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Town orders Boracay resort closed

By: - Correspondent / @nestorburgosINQ
/ 11:44 PM June 11, 2011

ILOILO CITY—The municipal government of Malay in Aklan on Friday ordered closed a resort in Boracay that has become controversial due to rumors that boxing champion Manny Pacquiao partly owns it and protests over its location in what authorities said was a no-build zone.

Malay Mayor John Yap, town officials and members of the Boracay Special Tourist Police Office ordered the Boracay West Cove resort to immediately stop its operations for lack of business, building and occupancy permits.

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The mayor directed the resort management not to accept new guests after those billeted at the resort have checked out. The officials also warned the resort management that the structures will be padlocked if the closure order is defied.

West Cove owner businessman Crisostomo Aquino said the closure order violated the Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to his resort.

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A FLAgT, under the DENR Administrative Order No. 2004-59, allows the temporary use, occupation and development of any forest land for tourism purposes for a period of 25 years renewable for another 25 years.

FLAgT agreement covers forest lands to be used for bathing, campsites, ecotourism destinations, hotel sites and other tourism purposes.

The resort has villas, hugs a cliff and sits on a rock formation at Diniwid Beach in Barangay Yapak, an isolated area on the northern tip of the 1,032-hectare island. It is not visible from tourists and residents at the white beach, whose main entry point is the Cagban port at the opposite end of the island.

“They did not have a court order to close it down. I have instructed my staff not to accept new guests but we will contest the mayor’s order before the appropriate venues,” Aquino told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Friday.

He said resort owners applied for permits at the municipal government but these have not been acted upon.

The DENR, then led by Joselito Atienza, issued a FLAgT to the resort late in 2009 despite calls from business groups Boracay Foundation Inc. and Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) to stop the operation of the resort for alleged violations including building of structures on rock formations.

The resort is widely rumored to be partly or fully owned by Pacquiao who stays at the resort when he is in Boracay. Aquino, Pacquiao and Atienza, a close friend of the boxing champion, have repeatedly denied these allegations.

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TAGS: Aklan, Boracay, Boracay West Cove, Business, island, Tourism
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