The Aklan Regional Trial Court (RTC) has issued a temporary restraining order barring the demolition of 10 residential and commercial buildings on Boracay Island purportedly encroaching on the beach easement.
In a two-page order issued on October 15, acting presiding judge Ronald Exmundo of the Kalibo, Aklan RTC Branch 7, directed the local government of Malay led by Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista to “cease and desist” from implementing the March 25, 2019 and other demolition orders covering 10 structures along Bulabog Beach, at the eastern side of the island.
A TRO has a maximum duration of 20 days from the date of issuance unless a writ of preliminary injunction is issued by a court.
The court order temporarily bars the demolition of Aira Hotel, Ventoso Residences, Freestyle Academy Kite Surfing School, Kite Center at Banana Bay, Wind Riders Inn, Pahuwayan Suites, Boracay Gems, Unit 101 of 7 Stones Boracay Suites, Unit 107 of 7 Stones Boracay Suites, and Lumbung Residences.
The order was issued after the plaintiffs posted a P300,000 bond for the TRO about a civil complaint.
Those who sought a TRO against the demolition of their properties include spouses Joey and Norlyn Nibre and Rafael Claudio Zulueta III.
Bautista in an executive order issued on October 16 recalled the demolition orders and directed municipal personnel to abide by the court order.
Sought for comment, Natividad Bernardino, general manager of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group, which manages the rehabilitation efforts, said they would comply with the court order but would seek its lifting.
She said the structures covered by the TRO are among the 28 commercial and residential buildings which were “non-compliant” with the beach easement. Owners of the other structures have voluntarily demolished their structures.
Boracay Island was closed to tourists for six months from April 26 to October 25, 2018, to undergo rehabilitation.
A major component in the rehabilitation is the implementation of the 25+5-meter easement along the beach.
This is measured 25 meters from the mean high water mark (the annual average of high and low tide levels) to the shoreline as beach easement. Another five meters is added for the beach path.
No structures are allowed to be put up within the 30-meter area along the beach.
Structures that encroached on the easement along the white beach at the western side of the island have been removed by the owners or demolished by personnel of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force during and after the closure.
But several property owners along Bulabog Beach have questioned the demolition orders and the boundary measurements that purportedly show their violation of the easement rule.
They have pointed out that they have invested in their properties and put up their structures after they were issued building and other permits and clearances by the local government and government agencies, only to be told later that they violated the easement rule.
Bulabog Beach, parallel to the White Beach on the other side of the island, is quieter and popular for water sports.
Water sports enthusiasts, including expatriates, have put up homes and businesses in the area, as well as those who have invested life earnings and savings in their properties. /lzb