By Candeze R. Mongaya and Marian Z. Codilla, Reporters
VOLUNTARY demolition is being asked of the residents and owners of the illegal structures within the 20-meter easement zone of Bantayan Island’s shoreline.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7) said they will relay this appeal in a dialogue with the occupants and owners of the structures today.
“It would be easier for all of us if they just removed their houses without waiting for the court order,” DENR-7 information officer Eddie Llamedo told Cebu Daily News in an interview.
Based on a DENR-7 mapping survey last year, about 20 percent of the structures in Bantayan are considered “illegal” as defined by Presidential Decree 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines.
The code states that no person should be allowed to stay longer or build any kind of structures within the 20 meter easement zone from the shores of the sea.
The mapping survey is still ongoing, Llamedo said.
“Once proven in the physical mapping that the structures are illegal, it will be demolished or removed,” Llamedo said.
Vicente Calizar, DENR-7 Protected Area Superintendent, said the survey is still subject for verification.
“We are very careful because most of these are houses and there is a need for deliberation from the board,” Calizar told Cebu Daily News.
A management plan is being considered to determine the fate of the owners of these illegal structures.
DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Maximo Dischoso will meet with members of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB)- Bantayan Island Wilderness Area (BIWA) today for this purpose.
Also included in the board agenda is the reorganization of the committees and the changing of zones within the protected area.
Llamedo said they will forward the minutes of the meeting and furnish a copy of the survey to the Mandaue Regional Trial Court (RTC).
RTC Judge Marilyn Ligura Yap of branch 28 earlier ordered the demolition of business establishments last May 2010 after they were found to have violated the Water Code.
“The DENR is compelled to implement the court order because if we won’t, we would also be charged for contempt of court,” he said.
Llamedo said there should be full coordination between the local government units (LGUs) and the DENR on this problem.
The towns of Bantayan, Sta. Fe and Madridejos were included in the mapping but only barangay Baud in Bantayan had yet to be evaluated in the survey.
Ecology lawyer Antonio Oposa who led the filing of the case against six resorts who violated the Water Code, said the management plan should include the delineation of the protected area to protect the mangroves.