Closing Panglao like what happened to Boracay may sound like a threat. But it could happen if Mayor Pedro Fuertes will insist not to issue and implement the demolition orders for the illegal structures earlier identified during the visit of Department of Environment and Nayural Resources Sec. Roy Cimatu.
This possibility on the closure of Panglao as a resort destination surfaced after information which leaked to the Chronicle revealed of a strongly worded letter coming from Malacanang is on its way to the office of the Panglao mayor.
The letter dated August 30, 2018 which leaked to the Chronicle yesterday was signed by Sec. Michael Lloyd L. Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas who is the alter ego of President Rodrigo R, Duterte in the region.
In his letter, the presidential assistant told the Panglao mayor “the consequences faced by Boracay, such as closure, and even administrative, civil and criminal cases against erring local officials shall also be faced by your municipality and its officials.”
Sec. Dino who was in Panglao last Tuesday told the Chronicle in an exclusive interview that if Mayor Fuertes will insist on not issuing the demolition orders, then he should know the consequences.
Duterte’s second-ranking official in the Visayas told the town mayor that the “national government is not averse to stepping in and doing what local governments cannot do, just to preserve our environment.”
What happened to Boracay and the events leading to its closure need no longer be rehashed, the Cebu-based Malacanang official stressed.
“We know the devastating economic effects on the closure of Boracay, the tourism industry, the business sector and the livelihood of the locals,” Dino said.
The mayor was reminded of what has been agreed during a meeting last June 28, 2018, at the Governor’s Mansion that there would be a voluntary demolition from the owners of illegal structures along Alona beach which gave all those concerned until July 31 to accomplish said demolition.
Sec. Dino said Mayor Fuertes should have started issuing the demolition orders last August 1.
In his letter, the presidential assistant told the Panglao mayor, this is to “strongly remind you of the necessity of the demolition orders as these illegal structures violate our environmental laws.”
A highly-placed source said the letter will be delivered tomorrow to the mayor. This letter came as an offshoot of the several meetings which did not result in any compliance to the order of DENR Sec, Cimatu.
It was learned that last Monday, Mayor Fuertes met with PENRO Salem Quiwag in another attempt to get the mayor’s decision to finally issue the demolition orders. But, the local DENR official was shocked to hear the mayor saying that he will not issue the orders unless he gets a letter from Pres. Duterte.
The mayor has lately been advocating for a “restoration/rehabilitation” mode before demolitions can be done as espoused by some resort owners in Alona beach.
The technical consultant of the resort owners presented the method of siphoning sand to the shorelines in order to restore the sand level at the beach front. They cited what was done in Astoria Resort in Baclayon town where the shoreline, from a bit rocky to a pure sandy shoreline using the said method.
The proposed rehabilitation of the shoreline would cost up to a billion pesos if done in the vast coastal areas in Panglao, according to the proponents.
However, this proposal being backed up by the mayor is not acceptable by the DENR as the government could not allow further deterioration of the shoreline, especially in the Alona beach area.
Earlier the Provincial Tourism Council led by lawyer Lucas Nunag, a resort owner himself and the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by Engr. Al Uy issued a strongly worded joint resolution asking Mayor Fuertes to issue the demolition orders.
The letter of the twin major groups was flatly denied by the town mayor.
The letter signed by Presidential Asst. Sec. Dino is expected to be the final order for the mayor to follow what is mandated by law in preserving the environment.