The municipal government of Malay has resumed the demolition of illegal structures built within the 25+5meter shoreline easement in Bulabog Beach after the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by a local court had lapsed.

Last October 15, the Aklan Regional Trial Court Branch 7 issued a 20-day TRO against the demolition of 10 residential and commercial buildings violating the 25+5 meter easement rule. The TRO expired on November 4.

Malay Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista issued Executive Order No. 038, s. 2019 on November 6 directing all its concerned personnel to resume the demolition, stating that “due to the expiration of the effectivity of the Temporary Restraining Order, … there is no further cause restraining the LGU from implementing the demolition orders issued by former Mayor Abram Sualog”.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who co-chairs the BoracayInter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, said that the rehabilitation of Boracay requires the clearing of all obstructions for the widening and improvement of the island’s circumferential road.

“We need to clear the easement of obstructions and complete the circumferential road in SitioBulabog,” Cimatu said. “Without the road, the garbage in that area cannot be collected; ambulance and fire trucks could not also penetrate the area during emergency situations.”

A vital component of Boracay’s rehabilitation is the widening and improvement of the circumferential road, which is a three-phase project of the Department of Public Works and Highways intended to decongest road traffic, provide walkways for tourists and locals, and make all roads passable for all types of emergency and logistic vehicles.

Owners of the 10 erring establishments along Bulabog Beach have filed a petition for preliminary injunction with the Aklan RTC against a demolition order dated March 25, 2019 and other related orders issued by the municipal government of Malay.

The establishments are Aira Beachfront Boracay Hotel, Ventoso Residences, Freestyle Academy Kite Surfing School, Kite Center at Banana Bay, Wind Riders Inn, Pahuwayan Suites, Lumbung Residences, Boracay Gems, and Units 101 and 107 of Seven Stones Boracay Suites.

Since April 2018 when the Boracay rehabilitation started and the island was closed for six months, hundreds of resorts and other commercial establishments were made to comply with various environmental laws, including removing structures built on beach and road easements and requiring those with at least 40 rooms to have their own sewage treatment facilities.

According to Natividad Bernardino, general manager of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group, around 80 percent of the more than 300 commercial establishments on the beach are now compliant after having demolished portions of their buildings that encroach on the easement.

“On Bulabog Beach, these 10 establishments who filed the petition for court injunction are the last remaining structures that are still non-compliant,” Bernardino pointed out.

“All 42 neighboring establishments in the area have already complied,” she added.

Secretary Puyat said the demolition of illegal structures is a must to sustain the momentum gained during the one and a half years of Boracay rehabilitation.

“We need to continue the demolition of illegal structures. If we back down now, it will be a bad precedent not only in Boracay but in other tourism sites as well,” the tourism chief said, referring to El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Panglao Island in Bohol, and Siargao, which are also being rehabilitated to make tourism in these areas more environmentally-sustainable.

Meanwhile, Secretary Año had already instructed the Malay municipal government to implement the demolition orders once the TRO has expired and in the absence of an extension order or preliminary injunction from the court. ###