NBI files complaints vs. businessmen, local officials for Boracay mess

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 20) — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed complaints against businessmen and local government officials in connection with environmental problems hounding Boracay Island.

NBI's Task Force Boracay found that these resorts were built on forestlands and wetlands: Boracay Tanawin Properties Inc., Karuna Boracay Suites, Denichi Boracay Corporation, and Seven Seas Boracay, according to complaints filed Thursday and Friday before the Department of Justice.

The owners and executives of these companies, as well as former and incumbent officials from the municipality of Malay, Aklan, including zoning administrators, assessors and even mayors, were slapped with graft and violations of the Forestry Code and the Local Government Code. Among the chief executives facing raps are Malay Mayor Ceciron Cawaling and former Mayor John Yap.

The government wants Boracay's forestlands and wetlands cleared of illegal structures, as the Environment Department said encroachment on, or loss of these areas can cause serious environmental damage.

Boracay has been closed to tourists since April 26 on President Rodrigo Duterte's order. He said the shutdown will be up to six months, or until October.

Duterte called the world-famous tourist destination "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if its pollution problem went unsolved.

READ: Saving Boracay: Timeline, what to expect