The provincial government of Bohol has no authority to intervene in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) move to order the demolition of structures erected along Panglao’s no-build zone, said Governor Edgar Chatto amid affected resort owners’ appeal for reconsideration.
According to Chatto, violators of the 20-meter easement rule implemented throughout Panglao’s coastline should comply with the DENR’s order as the issue is beyond the control of the provincial government and municipality’s local government unit (LGU).
“Ang ruling sa DENR mao man g’yud nay final kay ang atong local government magsunod man kung unsa ang regulation sa national agency,” he said. “We are bound to follow that, mao pud para sa local government and municipalities which will also be guided by the national policy.”
Measurement of the easement issued by the DENR through Secretary Roy Cimatu, who inspected Panglao particularly the Alona Beach in March, will be observed even after stakeholders raised before authorities that erosion and “tidal movement” caused seawater to move closer to their establishments.
“It would appear na ang second line nga karong bag-o mao ilang [DENR] gi-determine, mao gyud ang sundon as far as pag-recognize kung valid pa ba imong structure or dili na ba valid,” Chatto said.
The governor recognized that there have been environmental changes which caused seawater to move further inland but noted that the DENR may have already taken into consideration these natural alterations when the agency crafted its policies.
“Tinuod na, dunay tidal movement which is a scientific phenomenon nga wala but-I sa tawo. It’s an act of God nga kahibaw pud ta na tungod sa climate change, mag-anam gyud og move ang tubig inland so tungod ana, to protect the environment, ang balaod sa DENR nag-ingon na from the highest level of water,” he added.
Earlier, resort owners and operators in Panglao argued that structures that are now deemed illegal were once out of the easement zone but beach erosion has caused seawater to move closer to their establishments.
A total of 87 resorts were listed by the DENR as among violators of the 20-meter easement rule based on a list issued by the agency.
In March, Cimatu conducted an hour-long inspection of beachfront resorts along the almost kilometer-long Alona shoreline to check their compliance with environmental laws.
Although he said that the resorts did not appear to be violating the Clean Water Act, he noted that many of the establishments have structures which encroached on the easement zone.
Cimatu however was optimistic that the issue would be resolved within six months noting that many of the resort operators expressed cooperation and support during the inspection.
“There were several buildings that were compliant but there were also plenty of non-compliant, but the good thing is they were really receptive of our request for them to move to the authorized easement in Panglao…I am very confident na ma-solve ito,” he said. (Allen Doydora)