MALAY, Aklan – The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force headed by Environment secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) of the island to demolish “erring” structures which have allegedly encroach the beach-easement mark.
The BIARMG started to demolish the structures yesterday following the expiration on Nov. 5 of the 20-day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by Judge Ronald Exmundo of the Kalibo Regional Trial Court in favor of the owners of 10 residential and commercial buildings along Bulabog Beach on Oct. 15.
The structures include Aira Hotel, Ventoso Residences, Freestyle Academy Kite Surfing School, Kite Center at Banana Bay, Wind Riders Inn, Pahuwayan Suites, Boracay Gems, Unit 101 of 7 Stones Boracay Suites, Unit 107 of 7 Stones Boracay Suites, and Lumbung Residences.
Meanwhile, business owners filed an injunction case against the local government.
The group’s lawyer, Atty. Salvador Paolo Panelo Jr., said the issuance of the TRO against the demolition was warranted.
“The law is clear. There can be no demolition of homes, shops, small hotels and similar structures unless authorized by the court after a full trial. Without a trial and a court order, demolition amounts to the taking of property without due process of law, and is unconstitutional,” he added.
Natividad Bernardino, general manager of the task force, said the complainants are the only remaining “non-compliant” to the 25+5-meter easement along the beach.
“Of the 52 non-compliant in the Bulabog Beach, only 10 are remaining and these are the establishments which were the subject of the TRO,” Bernardino added.
The 25-meter beach easement is measured from the mean high water mark (the annual average of high and low tide levels) to the shoreline. The added five meters has been imposed for the beach path.
“We have to show the government’s resolve in establishing order in Boracay and we have been fair enough in the enforcement of regulations here. Their structures have encroached on the easement so they have to be demolished just like the others,” Bernardino said.
Cimatu, meanwhile, said the easement rule has to be enforced on all non-compliant structures which continue to violate the 30-meter beach easement, a measure which was strictly imposed following the closure of the island for six months to give way for massive cleanup and repair works.
“We need to clear the easement of obstructions and complete the circumferential road in Sitio Bulabog. Without the road, the garbage in that area cannot be collected, ambulance and fire trucks could not also penetrate the area during emergency situations,” Cimatu said.
Boracay was closed for six months on April 26 last year on the heels of “indiscriminate violation of laws” threatening its environment.
Prior to the closure, President Rodrigo Duterte said the island has become a cesspool due to the blatant disregard of environmental laws.(With a report from Noel Cabobos/RadyoTodo/88.5FM/PN)