The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has asked a court in Aklan province to include it as a party in the civil case filed by property owners on Boracay Island opposing the demolition of their residential and commercial buildings.
In a hearing at the Kalibo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 7 on Monday, the DENR manifested before presiding Judge Ronald Exmundo that the agency, through the Office of the Solicitor General, would file a motion for intervention. The court directed the DENR to file the motion within five days.
According to lawyer Jiana Joselle de Guzman of the DENR central office, the environment department is seeking to intervene in the case to protect the interest of the agency because it heads the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, a body managing rehabilitation activities on the resort island.
Owners of 10 residential and commercial structures along Bulabog Beach have filed a civil complaint against the municipal government of Malay, asking the court to declare demolition orders as illegal and null and void.
The demolition orders were among those issued on properties purportedly encroaching on the 30-meter beach easement.
The clearing of the beach easement is among the priority projects in Boracay’s rehabilitation efforts. The island was closed to tourists for six months, from April to October last year, to give way to a massive cleanup, demolition of illegal structures and repairs of roads, drainage system and sewer lines.
But the property owners insisted that they built their properties after complying with building and other rules and regulations and after they were issued the required permits and licenses by the local government and the DENR.
On Oct. 15, the Kalibo RTC Branch 7 issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) barring the demolition of 10 residential and commercial buildings along Bulabog Beach. The 20-day TRO directed the Malay government, led by acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista, to “cease and desist” from implementing its demolition orders.
Bautista has recalled the demolition orders to comply with the court order.
This was the first time that a court barred the demolition of structures in Boracay since the island’s closure last year.
Hundreds of property owners had torn down sections of their buildings amid warnings from government agencies that these would be forcibly demolished. —NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.