Beach owners seek TRO against demolition order
by Rey Anthony Chiu
Tagbilaran City (5 June) -- AT LEAST 13 beach resort owners recently petitioned for a court ruling to temporarily restrain Mayor Benedicto Alcala from implementing a demolition order set Monday.
Reports said even before the court could act on the petition, another resort, Casanova and represented by Atty. Dennis Hora filed a similar motion Thursday, stopping the mayor from proceeding with the demolition plan.
The ensuing legal battle for the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) put government and non-government groups into a grind, doing ocular inspections and hearing sides before the court resolves either Friday or Saturday, says Capitol Legal Officer Atty. Handel Lagunay.
Environmental Legal Assistance Center said some of petitioning resort owners have earlier signed undertakings manifesting their voluntary demolition of their illegal structures within the environmental protection zone.
Apparently fed up with the promises and feeling the pressure from environmentalists and local officials, Mayor Alcala finally sent the demolition ultimatum for Monday, June 8.
According to reports, Paz Trotin of the Bohol Divers Lodge and 12 other resort owners seek a TRO against Panglao chief executive who ordered the demolition of the illegal structures within the beaches' 20-meter environmental protection zones.
Meanwhile Bohol environment officer Nestor Canda assured the embattled mayor of full government support for his decision to implement pro-environment laws.
While PENRO Canda admitted the mayor may be "pressured", he assured technical personnel from his office to help the mayor in defending his stand in demolishing structures on public access areas.
Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA, PENRO Canda explained that the local governments are tasked to implement the national and local laws as mandated in the local government code.
Failure to do so may be a cause for administrative sanctions, he added.
It may be recalled that since March of 2008, Mayor Alcala has sent notices of violation to the resort owners with illegal structures on the protected zones.
Reports said Mayor Alcala sent another set of notice of violation last May 15, 2009, one that pushed owners to petition the court's reiterative motion for the initial request for the TRO and the institution of a status quo ruling, said Capitol legal officer Handel Lagunay at the weekly Governor reports.
Speaking for the Capitol stand, Lagunay cited Article 61 of the Water Code of the Philippines and insisted that Bohol needs to strengthen its tourism potentials and that is by moving back the illegal structures on the beaches, especially along the Alona stretch.
The legal battle came just in time when the whole country celebrates the environment month. (PIA) [top]