THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued stoppage orders to forestland works of two developers in Boracay Island which is currently undergoing 6 months of rehabilitation works.
DENR-6 regional director Jim Sampulna said they conducted an investigation on May 16, 2018, after receiving reports on the alleged leveling or flattening of the mountain in Barangay Yapak.
A video posted on social media on May 11 showed alleged ground works on the mountain. But the video appears to have been taken even before the closure of the island which started April 26. Still, environment officials have launched an investigation on the matter.
Sampulna said the owners of the projects on the island have agreed to stop their works. One of the developers he mentioned is Costa Vista Boracay of Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. of the Villar Group.
“And they all agreed to stop the works because there is already an instruction from Secretary (Roy) Cimatu na wala munang construction sa Boracay. We have already issued stoppage order doon sa development nila sa pag-level ng lupa,” he added.
Cimatu earlier ordered a total stoppage to all constructions in the island aside from issuing a moratorium on the issuance of DENR permits, including but not limited to Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), tree cutting permit, except those relating to ongoing road widening project by the DPWH.
In a press statement dated May 16, 2018, Cimatu said he is “deeply bothered by such acts of total disregard of the government’s effort to rehabilitate Boracay.”
He said reports from the field office indicated that the flattening of the mountain was conducted prior to the closure on April 26 and has been stopped.
“To be clear to all that we mean business in the enforcement of environmental laws, rules, and regulations,” Cimatu said.
Sampulna also stressed that despite having land titles or ECC in the timberland, firms must abide by the stoppage order of construction works amid the six-month rehabilitation.
In a statement, Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. of the Villar Group said the company has complied with the laws and regulations as well as all government permits and licenses in its development project in the island.
“As early as February this year, we have slowed down our development works, and have accordingly reduced the number of equipment and workers in the area,” Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. chief legal counsel Ma. Nalen SJ Rosero said.
Rosero said the images that appeared in the news articles do not pertain to their project site.
“The area subject of our development is a developed resort with existing facilities. Moreover, it is our policy to respect and preserve the natural topography of the land. To do so is not only structurally sound but more importantly, environmentally friendly,” she said.
She added that the company is “fully supportive of the government’s efforts to rehabilitate Boracay.”
Meanwhile, Cimatu said that while they welcome feedback from the public, he also appealed that any reported or post online “should be verified first so as not to cause any misunderstanding.”