BY ROGER M. BALANZA
While beach resort owners in the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) are locked in legal battle with City Hall over its order to dismantle their structures that encroached into foreshore areas, an apparently influential businessman is developing a resort and rest house in Barangay Tambo in Babak in blatant violation of the mayor’s order.
The businessman identified in radio reports as an Alex Oliver also built in his resort a jetty that stretched out to sea for about a hundred meters from land.
Radio reports said Mr. Oliver appears to be ‘untouchable’ being said to be “close” to Mayor Aniano Antalan, with City Hall appearing to have closed its eyes in the illegal construction that has been ongoing for months now.
Tambo residents are now preparing a formal complaint to be filed before City Hall and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Mayor Antalan has ordered a stop to all illegal constructions and has imposed penalties on existing structures.
The Samal City Resort Owners Association (SCROA) said several of its members have received closure orders from Mayor Antalan for illegal construction.
In a press conference in Davao City in April, SCROA president Engr. Pasto Lozada Jr. said that some members of the SCROA have already received notices of closure after refusing to pay the “unjustifiable” fines imposed by City Hall on the illegal constructions.
The penalties, ranging from P50,000 to P300,000, were imposed against resort owners with jetties by virtue of the City Ordinance 2009-150 or the Revised Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of the Island Garden City of Samal.
Araceli Ayuste, SCROA adviser, said that resort owners said the five-year-old ordinance is “very oppressive.”
Ayuste is the owner of the Punta del Sol Beach Resort and is the president of both the Davao del Norte Tourism Council and Mindanao Tourism Council.
There are more than 70 beach resorts around the island.
According to Ayuste, the old ordinance was suddenly revived when they were about to renew their business permits early this year.
SCROA has brought the case to court, and in March, Regional Trial Court Panabo City Judge Dax Gonzaga Xenos issued a prohibition mandamus injunction in favor of the SCROA which stopped Mayor |Antalan from implementing the ordinance and the collection of the fines, said Ayuste.