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Bantayan Island shoreline cleared of illegal structures

CEBU CITY, Jan. 30 –- The shorelines of six beach resorts in Bantayan Island off the northernmost tip of Cebu mainland have been cleared of illegal structures, which are the subject of a mandamus suit filed in October 2008.

Bantayan Island Wilderness Area (BIWA) Superintendent Vicente Calizar said all permanent structures such as ramps, concrete posts and cottages have been taken down.

With the development, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has manifested before Cebu’s environment court that charges of indirect contempt against the beach resort owners would no longer be pursued.

The demolition and removal of illegal structures were the subject of an order issued by Mandaue City Regional Trial Court Judge Marilyn Lagura-Yap dated August 2009.

In the 10-page decision, she ordered the DENR 7 to demolish or remove structures built within a 20-meter distance from the seashore, which is a violation of the Water Code of the Philippines.

”The structures prejudice the inhabitants whose livelihood consists of fishing because then, there are no spaces provided for their fishing boats/bancas on the shore,” Yap said in her decision.

”Most of the fisherfolk live alongside these beach resorts. With the proliferation of the structures jutting out on the beach fronts, the fisherfolks do not have immediate access to the sea,” she said.

In May 2009, Judge Yap led an inspection of the six beach resorts in Bantayan Island that were reported to have built permanent structures within the 20-meter easement zone along shorelines.

The DENR personnel started removing the structures on May 2010, after receiving a writ of execution.

The order stemmed form the case filed by environment lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. and other Bantayan island residents against the DENR for patrimonial malpractice, mandamus, injunction and damages for allegedly allowing the resorts to build the illegal structures.

The petition, filed in October 2008, stated that the petitioners were against ”mindless development.”

”Unplanned and uncontrolled construction will ultimately destroy the very natural features that make the Bantayan Group of Islands so attractive, and so beautiful,” they said. (PNA) DCT/FFC/EB/re

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