DENR ends lease agreement with controversial Boracay resort
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has terminated a 25-year land use agreement with a controversial posh resort in Boracay accused of illegal construction.
In a three-page order dated Sept. 12, Environment Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr. ordered the cancellation of the Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) issued to the Boracay West Cove resort.
A FLAgT 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.
The agreement applies to forest lands for bathing, camp sites, ecotourism destinations, hotel sites and other tourism purposes.
The cancellation was sought by the Department of Tourism after the resort allegedly violated the terms of the FLAgT.
In his order, Ignacio said the resort’s violations included building permanent structures in an area measuring 3,159 square meters, which is outside the 998-sq m area in Barangay Balabag covered by the lease agreement.
In August 2011, then DENR Regional Executive Director Julian Amador issued a cease and desist order against the resort for introducing improvements outside the FLAgT area and failing to submit its site management plan and annual report.
But the resort failed to comply with the order and continued developing areas outside the lease agreement coverage, according to Ignacio in his order.
“To emphasize, the construction of permanent structure outside the approved FLAgT area is considered a grave violation of the terms and conditions of the agreement, tantamount to an intentional disrespect and disregard for the authorities,” he said.
Boracay West Cove owner Crisostomo Aquino has repeatedly insisted that he did not violate the FLAgT and environmental laws. He said the local government had ignored his application for permits and accused government agencies of singling out his resort.
The FLAgT was issued to the resort in 2009 during the term of then Environment Secretary Lito Atienza.
Boracay West Cove became controversial for building structures on natural rock formations and operating for years without business and building permits.
Last year, government agencies and the local government of Malay, which has jurisdiction over Boracay, demolished portions of the resort considered illegal structures.
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