Alona Beach deal puts LGU in a bind

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Alona Beach deal puts LGU in a bind

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The town mayor of one of the province’ top tourist destination is now trying to wiggle out from a tough situation that would prevent a collision course involving a foreign investor, a municipal engineer, barangay officials, executive officials and the owner of a prime beach property allegedly situated within the salvage zone or protected area.’

Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero who admitted that the property is within the 20 meter salvage zone is now crafting a perplexing “win win” formula that would appease a Korean investor who allegedly forked a hefty P6 million for a 94 square meter beach front property in Alona Beach in Tawala, Panglao and now wants his money back unless the LGU will straighten out his land problem.

The bone of contention is a piece of prime beach front property titled under the name of Marcelina Mejos along the famous Alona Beach in Barangay Tawala, Panglao, a one kilometer strip of powdery white sand crammed with almost 50 resorts, restaurants, bars and dive shops.

The name of the Korean investor surfaced after Municipal Engineer Rogelio Bonao informed Mejos that a certain Mr. Park claimed that “he bought your lot at the Alona Beach, thus you are no longer the current owner of the Lot No. 4218-A being the subject to on-going construction within the salvage zone”.

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The purchase price of P69 thousand per square meter, considered by real estate brokers as a “record high” has breached the average price of Alona beach front properties at P30 – P40 thousand per square meter.

The local lawyer of the Korean businessman, on condition of anonymity confirmed the deal to the Chronicle but was tight lipped on the legal remedy his client will pursue if negotiations with the LGU officials will collapse.

George Co Tan aka Park is reportedly the owner of a Korean restaurant “Sea World” where a make or break meeting attended by top officials of the LGU of Panglao ended in a deadlock after Bonao refuse to budge from his position not to issue a building permit to the Korean.

MIND BOGGLING

The “winning formula” which was labeled as a “special consideration without precedent” by Montero calls for the issuance of a special permit for the owners of the property to construct, build and erect structures within the 20 meter salvage zone but prohibits owners of structures similarly situated to invoke the so called special consideration.

A certification signed by Montero on January 7, 2015 reminded Mejos, to observe a setback of 20 meters from the salvage zone and to comply with all other relevant laws and regulations.

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Notwithstanding the existence of an Executive Order No. 9 series of 2014 on August 27, 2014 enforcing the salvage zone and easement along the shoreline of Panglao and creating the salvage zone enforcement team, Montero ordered the demolition of all existing structures within the 20 meter salvage zone as delineated by the DENR.

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A looming clash between Montero’s so called “special consideration without precedent” formula to break the impasse created by the stoppage order and EO No. 9 is now coming to a boil if officials mandated by law to implement the salvage zone will hang tough on the issue while Montero would impose her will to salvage the project.

Montero admitted during an interview with DYRD “Inyong Alagad” on Monday, September 28, 2015 that the Mejos property was within the 20 meter salvage zone but insisted to grant the “special consideration” apparently to appease the so called “Korean developer” and the owner who is the mother of municipal councilor Eduard Mejos, a member of the powerful administration block of the Sangguniang Bayan of Panglao.

CONTRASTING DOCUMENTS

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Documents obtained by the Chronicle showed that on December 12, 2014, the Office of the barangay Captain of Barangay Tawala, Panglao issued two certifications.

The first certification was issued that Lot No. 4218-A declared in the name of Marcelina Mijos “is situated within the 20 meters salvage zone” while a second certification showed that the same lot is in the name of Mejos, Marcelina “is not situated within the 20 meter salvage zone”.

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Both conflicting certifications were signed on the same day by Barangay Councilor Alex Bungawan in behalf of Tawala Barangay Captain Saturnina Hernando upon the request of her son Municipal Councilor Eduard Mejos in compliance with the requirements for a building permit for renovation.

A one story building was previously standing in the beachfront property covering 42 square meters but was demolished allegedly by the Korean without a demolition permit and started to construct a new one prompting Municipal Engineer Rogelio Bonao to revoke a previously issued building permit for renovation and issue a stoppage order for illegal construction.

Bonao issued a notice of illegal construction against Mejos on September 1, 2015 for “encroachment of the salvage zone/protected area in violation of article V, section 18 of the Municipal Zoning Ordinance and the National Building Code and to stop immediately all illegal building activities”.

LEGAL REMEDY

The land row has spilled over to the courts after Mejos, filed a petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the Municipal Engineer from implementing several orders to “stop immediately all illegal building activities in your premises”.

Regional Trial Court Branch 2 Presiding Judge Jennifer Chavez-Marcos gave both parties 10 days to submit all documents relating to the assailed stoppage order issued by Municipal Engineer Bonao.

FAILED PROMISES

According to sources familiar with the land deal, Park was given assurance  that all documents were in order including a certification from the barangay that the property is located outside the 20 meter salvage zone.

With that guarantee, Park agreed to buy the property at P69,000 per square meter, demolish the old structure and built a new one free of all liens and encumbrances.

However, Park belatedly discovered that the prime lot he bought is now the subject of a stoppage order, a notice of cancellation of permit and a notice of illegal construction issued by the Office of the Building Official and signed by Municipal Engineer Rogelio Bunao and Municipal Planning & Development Coordinator (MPDC) Jovencia Asilo.

The strict enforcement of the 20 meter salvage zone will be an acid test on the officials of the present administration considering that upon the issuance of EO No. 9 Montero stressed that “Panglao has to step up law enforcement efforts to preserve and protect their major tourism asset which is the beach or the shorelines”. (Chito M. Visarra)

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