FLOATING and fixed cottage operators in Cordova town, Cebu have less than two weeks or only until Oct. 4, 2022, to voluntarily demolish their structures, after Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued an executive order on the matter as promised.

Garcia issued Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, Executive Order (EO) 36 ordering the demolition or removal of illegal structures, such as floating and fixed cottages within the coastal waters of the Municipality of Cordova, a day after her meeting with the stakeholders at the Cordova Sports Complex.

Garcia directed the government agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard, Naval Forces Central, and Maritime Industry Authority to strictly monitor and implement her order.

The governor made the decision after discovering the illegal practice of throwing septic waste into the ocean by some of Cordova’s floating cottage operators. The practice was revealed by SunStar Cebu in the first part of its special report on Cordova’s fixed and floating cottages which was released on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.

During the stakeholders’ meeting Tuesday, Garcia announced that she would give operators and owners of the floating and fixed cottages the option to demolish their own cottages along the shore or on the sea.

The governor said they could drag their floating cottages back to the shore and convert them into beach huts, provided that they followed the law and observed the 20-meter easement.

She denied the request of fixed and floating cottage operators to just remove their cottages and transfer them to other areas or sell them to others.

In the first part of SunStar Cebu’s special report on Cordova’s cottages, floating cottage operator Mark Ramirez had expressed concern over possible damage to his two cottages off Barangay Poblacion should a storm hit Cebu, as he could not retrieve them.

In her EO 25 issued on Aug. 28, 2022, Governor Garcia had ordered all floating and fixed cottage operators to stop operating their cottages in the coastal waters of Cordova on Aug. 29. Aside from this, Garcia had insisted that the cottages be anchored in place and not be transported to new areas.

In the special report, floating cottage operator Mabel Daro said some floating cottage operators had yet to recover their investments in building their cottages, which she placed at anywhere from P150,000 to almost half a million pesos.

Last month, Cordova Mayor Cesar “Didoy” Suan said there were 103 floating cottages and more than 300 fixed cottages in the town.

Garcia’s latest EO comes after she issued EO 35 Tuesday prohibiting swimming and similar activities within the defined foreshore area, mangrove zone, public beach zone and municipal fishing zones in Cordova in response to the health warning issued by the Department of Health in Central Visayas over the health hazards brought by swimming in waters contaminated with fecal coliform.

Provincial officials said the presence of floating and fixed cottages on Cordova’s coast was illegal based on Presidential Decree 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines and Republic Act 8550 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

They said the operators were also conducting business without any business permit issued by the municipal government.