Resort gets PAMB nod for project despite case

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Saturday, July 16, 2011


WHILE the court has yet to decide on a case involving structures built by resorts on a coastline in Sta. Fe, Bantayan, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Bantayan Island Wilderness Area (Biwa) endorsed the project proposed by one of the respondents in the pending suit.

The Biwa PAMB adopted a resolution approving the application of Juvy Zaspa of Marlin Beach Resort to lease 6,077 square meters of
foreshore abutting her property in Talisay, Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island, Cebu.

As this developed, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) denied allegations it was targeting Marlin Beach in its implementation of the order of Judge Marilyn Lagura-Yap of the Regional Trial Court Branch 28 for the demolition of illegal structures of six beach resorts in Sta. Fe.

DENR legal counsel Tranne Lee Digao-Ferrer, in a comment submitted to Judge Yap, said the “maintenance and repairs” that Marlin Beach implemented on the beach violated Yap’s order and constitute indirect contempt.

Tourism

The Biwa PAMB, however, considered Zaspa’s foreshore lease application as a matter of national interest, as it would promote tourism, create jobs and boost government revenues.

The resolution authorized PAMB chairman Richard Abella to enter into a negotiated contract of lease with Zaspa over the applied area for a period of 25 years.

The governing body of the Biwa also allowed the foreshore lease to be renewable for another 25 years.

The PAMB said its resolution was in accordance with Section 55 of DENR Administrative Order 25, which provides the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act of 1992.

The IRR of the Nipas provides that existing facilities of private institutions that are found inside the protected area shall be assessed in terms of its significance to national interest and their impact to the protected area.

The IRR provides that if a project is found to be significant to national interest, a contract shall be negotiated and payment of fees for the use of the land shall be based on a profitable sharing agreement or other measures in accordance with law.

Suit

The PAMB adopted the resolution even though the patrimonial mandamus suit filed by lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. and other Bantayan Island residents against the DENR, Marlin and other beach resort owners in October 2008 remains pending.

In August last year, Judge Yap issued a writ of execution for the demolition and removal of illegal structures on six beach resorts in Sta. Fe.

The structures were one cottage in Abaniko Beach Resort; seawall, concrete fence and a portion of the bar house in Tickety Boo Beach Resort; seawall, bar and restaurant in Yooneek Beach Resort; seawall and five kiosks in Marlin Beach Resort; seawall, five kiosks,
solid fence and two rest houses in Kota Beach Resort; and seawall, bar, restaurant and cottage in St. Bernard Beach Resort.

Yap cited Presidential Decree 1067, or the Water Code of the Philippines, which designates 20 meters on shorelines as easement zone and prohibits the construction of any structure along the area.

Marlin Beach Resort's legal counsel and Cebu City Councilor Edgar Labella had asked the court to require DENR to explain why the agency chose to focus on one resort when "there are other resorts in Bantayan Islands in Northern Cebu that are violating the law."

He also denied that the beach resort owner built new illegal structures along the coastline, saying that the construction work was just for maintenance and repair purposes.

The DENR alleged that the resort owners did not comply with the letter of Biwa protected area superintendent Vicente Rustico Calizar not to construct any structure within the easement zone, or conduct any development projects without approval from the PAMB.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 17, 2011.

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