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Iloilo riverbank restaurant faces 5 criminal charges

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 28 – A riverbank restaurant owner is facing at least five criminal charges filed at the city prosecutor’s office on Thursday by the city government here through the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) for various violations of environmental laws.

Aside from the criminal charges, Rogelio Fanuñal, owner of Ryans Seafoods along the Iloilo River and diversion road, is also facing various administrative charges to be filed by the CENRO.

CENR officer Engr. Noel Hechanova, with assistance from the city legal office, filed the charges against Fanuñal for violation of Section 71 of PD 705 as amended by Republic Act 7161, for illegal reclamation and leveling of a portion of the Iloilo river in order to build a structure thereon and for violating a ban on cutting of all mangroves in the area.

The respondent also violated Section 77 of PD 505, PD 953, PD 9275 or the Clean Water Act and Section 14, Ordinance 149-2004 specifically known as the City Environment Code and other related laws such as PD 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines.

Article 91 of the code punishes unauthorized obstruction of the Iloilo River or waterway and/or occupying the river bank or seashore without first obtaining legal authority from proper authorities caused by the respondent’s illegal backfilling and reclamation.

Hechanova said that since 2001, the city has been continuously developing and preserving the Iloilo River and the mangroves thereat in order to enhance and protect the environment for the interest of all persons concerned.

Last December 14, 2010, Fanuñal and his restaurant were issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through CENR officer Bernabe Garnace after it was found out by a DENR inspection team that the restaurant owner is pursuing an illegal reclamation and destruction of mangroves within the foreshore area being occupied by the restaurant.

The said area is covered by the owner’s Foreshore Lease Agreement Application No. 063022-14 filed on November 26, 1991.

Hechanova reported that there was an illegal reclamation of more or less 100 square meters and the encroachment is beyond the three meters easement by the river banks. The reclamation activity is not covered by any permit from the DENR or the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA). (PNA)

LAP/AJP/LCPendon/vlo

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