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Boracay high-end resort closed for lack of permits

Boracay West Cove resort is among establishments hit by the government crackdown on environmental violators on Boracay Island. —LYN RILLON

ILOILO CITY — The local government of Malay in Aklan province on Wednesday closed the controversial Boracay West Cove resort for continuously operating, despite the lack of business and other permits.

Municipal officials and personnel, aided by policemen and a security team, implemented the closure order in Barangay Balabag, one of the three villages on the island.

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No legal basis

Rowen Aguirre, municipal executive assistant for Boracay affairs, said the resort was found to be operating without business, building, occupancy and sanitary permits. It was also constructed on a no-build zone, according to local officials.

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Twelve foreign guests at the resort were directed to transfer to other hotels on the island.

Lawyer Florante Roxas, who represents resort owner Crisostomo Aquino, questioned the closure.

“There is no legal basis for this,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Aquino, he said, would file a petition at the Kalibo Regional Trial Court on Thursday, to seek the issuance of a temporary restraining order, injunction and certiorari.

Roxas said there was also a pending interpleader which they filed at the Court of Appeals. An interpleader is a civil suit on disputes over money or property.

Aquino said he would remain at the resort, despite its closure. He said the 60 people employed by the resort would lose their jobs due to the local government’s action.

“We are being pushed in a  corner, even when I have not been issued a written notice of violation or show cause order,” Aquino told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.

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Last month, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu inspected the resort and ordered the demolition of illegal structures, including those erected on top of rock formations.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has canceled a 25-year Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT), covering 998 square meters, issued to the resort when it built structures in areas outside those covered by the agreement.

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. It covers forest lands to be used for bathing, camp sites, ecotourism destinations, hotel sites and other tourism purposes.

Appeal

Aquino has appealed the ruling in the Office of the President.

Aguirre said the closure order was separate from the demolition of illegal structures implemented by the DENR. The DENR had allowed the continued operation of the resort pending resolution of Aquino’s appeal.

In 2014, government agencies and the Malay government, which has jurisdiction over Boracay, demolished portions of the resort that were considered to be illegally built. The resort, however, went to court to stop the demolition.

Aquino has repeatedly denied the violations, saying he was being singled out as the local government continued to deny his application for permits.

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TAGS: Boracay cleanup, Boracay West Cove resort, Crisostomo, environmental laws, Florante Roxas, Rowen Aguirre
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