Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero “advised” Governor Arthur Yap not to interfere with her town’s local affairs amid the Amanzara Resort controversy that has drawn province-wide attention from various sectors including the Church leadership.
“We advise your goodself [sic] to kindly desist from interfering with what is otherwise our local affair which is well under our control in accordance with out [sic] mandated authority under the local government code,” Montero said in a letter to the governor dated March 12, 2021.
Montero’s letter was sent in response to Yap’s call for the mayor to issue a cease and desist order against Amanzara Resort directing the establishment to suspend its parties scheduled on March 12 and 13 pending an investigation on health protocol violations allegedly committed in a previous series of events organized by the resort.
The Amanzara issue surfaced when videos of parties on March 5 and 6 spread on social media showing the resort’s guests dancing without facemasks and social distancing.
According to Montero, she has allowed Amanzara to push through with their scheduled parties under her personal supervision.
“That way, we will able to catch them en flagrante [sic] with their violation/s if and when they do, or help them avoid one in our earnest effort to assist stakeholders and investors do their part to help rebuild our tourism and entertainment industry,” Montero said.
The mayor also maintained that although Amanzara indeed broke health safety rules, the town’s Ordinance No. 7-2020 covering social distancing protocol stipulates that a first-time violation only merits a warning.
“We cannot go beyond the Ordinance by our local legislators who passed the same to balance the need to protect the health and economic well being [sic] of our constituents,” Montero said.
2 nights, 2 offenses?
In the same letter to Yap, Montero admitted that the “incidents at issue” were on March 5 and 6.
A concerned citizen who sent two videos to the media also corroborated this noting that the two pieces of footage were taken on the same two nights, March 5 and 6.
The mayor did not specify if the two incidents in which the violations were apparently committed counted as two offenses.
On top to the health protocol violations, Amanzara also found itself in hot water after a woman during one of its parties was caught on video as she took her top off and paraded herself in front of other guests.
The incident drew heavy flak from the public including Bishop Abet Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran who said that allowing the act was “reprehensible.”
Montero however said that it was “malicious” for the lewd show at the resort to be made to appear as if this happened on the same night as the parties in which health protocol violations were committed.
She said that the topless show, which was not sanctioned by the resort, happened in late February, not in March.
The municipal chief executive said that making a two-week-old incident appear “current” unfairly placed things “out of context.”
While the mayor insisted that the strip show happened on a separate night, a footage of the incident also showed that partygoers were still not wearing facemasks and observing social distancing as it transpired.
Montero also did not mention if this would as well count as another offense.
According to Montero, the strip show was not organized by Amanzara and that the woman has already apologized to the municipal government and the management of the resort.
“Suffice to state that it was an isolated incident attributable to the individual’s indiscretion without management approval,” the mayor said.
The last-term municipal chief executive stood by her earlier statement saying that she appreciated Amanzara’s efforts to help revive commerce in the once-thriving resort town.
Montero has repeatedly emphasized that she is supporting businesses in their efforts to attain an economic turnaround amid the pandemic which has wreaked havoc the world over.
“Amanzara Resort is one of the few stakeholders in our municipality who have boldly ventured to invest where most of our stakeholders fear to thread amidst the current market difficulties of the Covid pandemic, if just to do its share in helping rejuvenate our long stagnant tourism industry,” Montero said.