DENR ready to face possible legal backlash from erring Boracay business owners

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 6) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is ready to face any legal dispute that could be filed by Boracay business owners who refuse to back down despite violations of the law.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Friday said they are prepared to face business owners in Boracay if they decide to question the department's closure orders before the Supreme Court.

"We are ready to face them because we have to implement the law. Nobody should be above the law," he said in a media briefing.

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said they are expecting petitions for temporary restraining orders to be filed before the high court.

Cimatu revealed there are a number of businessmen in Boracay who have reached out to him after they were given notices of violations. He said among them is Crown Regency Resort in Boracay.

"Sabi niya, 'Hindi naman kasalanan pagdidischarge ng tubig sa establishment kasi merong spring doon.' Nagulat ako. Sabi ko, 'Paano nagkaroon ng spring sa isang island. Ay, ito na siguro, wetland kako. Eh 'di nahuli ko siya, doon pala yung wetland na nawawala,'" he said.

[Translation: The owner told me, "There's nothing wrong with an establishment discharging water in the spring." I was surprised. I said, "How come there's a spring on an island. Maybe this is the wetland. I caught them. Maybe their resort is built on wetland."]

DENR said over 400 establishments have been given notices of violations.

Leones said they have already issued more than 900 show-cause orders on establishments occupying forestlands and wetlands. Some of these establishments already received notices to vacate.

"Ang approach natin diyan sa ganyang mga violators, we notify them to self-demolish, self-correct themselves. Ngayon kung hindi sila magseself-demolish at self-correct, it will be the government doing the demolition at their expense," he said.

[Translation: Our approach to violators is we notify them to self-demolish and self-correct. If they don't do that, the government will demolish it.]

Leones said the DENR is now building cases against establishments who violated environmental laws in Boracay.

He clarified establishments who comply with the law will not be asked to close down. But for Leones, the problem is they would have no customers as local and foreign tourists will be banned from entering Boracay during its six-month closure starting April 26.