By Noel R. Cabobos
BORACAY ISLAND—The demolition of 10 structures found by the Boracay Task Force to be not compliant with the easement law will proceed as the appeal to hold it in abeyance was not granted both by the Court and the local government of Malay.
In the hearing for the Writ of Preliminary Injunction at Branch 7 of the Regional Trial Court yesterday, Lawyer Salvador Paolo Panelo Jr., said he was shaken by the Task Force’s insistence to continue with the demolition although “it grossly violated the rights of the people involved” referring to the owners of the 10 structures which were the subject of the government’s demolition order.
“Yes, this is a big tragedy especially for my clients pero hindi kami susuko para humanap ng ibang paraan,” Panelo stressed.
Over the weekend, an urgent request to postpone the implementation of the demolition was sent to the office of Malay Mayor Frolibar Bautista. The mayor, however, has not granted the appeal since yesterday afternoon. The government resumed its demolition on Friday shortly after the lapse of the Temporary Restraining Order issued by Judge Ronald Exmundo on October in favor of the protesteng business owners.
In the hearing yesterday, Exmundo ruled to give all the parties five (5) days to file all the necessary pleadings afterwhich the case, he said, will be submitted for resolution.
During the hearing, Panelo desperately appealed for a gentleman’s agreement by asking the lawyers representing the Office of the Solicitor General to momentarily put the demolition on hold while the Court is still hearing the Injunction case.
State Solicitor II Sheila Marie Sison and Senior State Solicitor Cecil Soto, however, said the government is working on a timeline set for by the Office of the President and that the urgency to finally correct the violations at the Bulabog area is most needed to fulfill that mission.
For her part, Natividad Bernardino, general manager of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) which is the implementing arm of the President’s Task Force, said “I cannot agree on the proposed gentleman’s agreement because in the first place it’s ungentlemanly not to follow the law.”
During the hearing, Panelo put Bernardino on the spot by asking her twice to put the demolition on hold “being the one calling the shots.”
“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. Of the 52 non-compliant in the Bulabog area, there are still 10 who refused to self-demolish the part of their structure that is within the 30-meter easement so it’s no longer our fault if we implement the law,” she said.
Bernardino underscored that Boracay Island serves as the model of President Duterte in restructuring damaged tourism destinations. “If this case drags on, this will become a bad precedence for other destinations that are badly needing major uplift and repair,” she said while citing El Nido and Coron in Palawan as well as Panglao in Bohol and Siargao in Surigao Del Norte being the next line after finishing with Boracay.
“We are now 80% complete and we are duty bound to finish on April next year which is the timeframe set for by the Task Force under the orders of the president,” she said.
motion for the intervention of the DENR and the Office of the Solicitor General
was strongly objected by the lawyer of the complainants but Judge Exmundo ruled
in favor to allow the intervention.
“The TRO is now moot and academic since it already lapsed. The only issue now is the Writ of Preliminary Injunction,” Judge Exmundo noted.
2 lady lawyers from the DENR and 2 lady lawyers from the office of the Solicitor General are in court battle with Panelo and his team.
The Court ruled to give all parties 5 days to file all the necessary pleadings and after which the case will be submitted for resolution
Atty. Panelo has appealed for several times during an open court for a gentleman’s agreement that during the 5-day period, the task force will hold in abeyance the demolition being conducted.
In an interview with Natividad Bernardino of the Boracay Inter Agency Rehabilitation Management Group, she said “I cannot agree in a gentleman’s agreement because in the first place its ungentlemanly not to follow the law.”
adjourning the hearing, Judge Exmundo noted “We pray that in 5 days not
everything has been demolished.”
The Solicitor General is represented by State Solicitor Ii Sheila Marie Sison and Senior State Solicitor Cecil Soto
While the DENR is represented by Atty. Jiana SC De Guzman and Atty. Lovely Quiben
In an after the hearing interview, Atty. Panelo said he is still shaken. “My stomach is in tight knots. I can’t understand why they (task force) cannot agree to stop or hold in abeyance the demolition in the meantime”
“Yes this is a big tragedy especially for my clients pero hindi kami susuko para humanap mg ibang paraan,” he said.