Environmental lawyer tells Sta. Fe resort owners to follow the law

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram and Rosalie O. Abatayo June 02,2018 - 10:02 PM

Liberate the seas

The contention of resorts owners that soil erosion in the coastline brought structures closer to the sea in Santa Fe town is unacceptable and non-existent, stressed environmental lawyer Ben Cabrido.

Cabrido instead advised resort owners whose structures are set to be demolished along the shoreline of Santa Fe, to comply with the court ruling instead of looking for excuses.

He said they are very happy that the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City has granted their request to tear down at least 21 structures that encroached the 20-meter easement zone.

“They cannot use that argument anymore. That’s the same one they used before. Now, it’s either they face forced demolition or just voluntarily demolish their structures,” Cabrido told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.

Cabrido also commended and welcomed the decision of the court ’on protecting the natural state the environment.’

“This just goes to show of the continuing effort on the part of the court to get rid of the violators,” he added.

Environmental lawyer Gloria Ramos who heads the environmental group Oceana, also shared Cabrido’s sentiments.

Follow the law

Ramos urged the owners of the illegal structures in Santa Fe to abide by the court order. Otherwise, she said, it might pose a grave danger to the lives of the residents if the erosion in the coast will continue.

“They should be thankful that the government is enforcing the law. They might be in danger kung mo-continue ang erosion and the rise of the sea level,” said Ramos.

Cabrido and prominent environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. filed the case to compel the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 (DENR-7) to demolish the structures near the shores of Santa Fe, one of the three towns comprising Bantayan Island.

The lawyers filed a petition for patrimonial malpractice, mandamus and damages.

The case sparked a legal battle between them and several residents in Santa Fe town, which has become a favorite spot for tourists due to its stretch of fine, white-sand beach.

Santa Fe Tourism Enterprise Association (Safetea), an organization of tourism stakeholders in Sta Fe town, expressed hope that the court will reconsider its decision.

William Medici, spokesperson of Safetea, said continuous soil erosion in the coastline of Santa Fe made it appear that the structures violated the easement zone.

He also said that their group always give importance to the environment as it is the source of their livelihood.

“In fact, we will be having a coastal cleanup on June 9. All of our stakeholders will be joining, including young students from Santa Fe,” said Medici.

He added that they will also present a five-point strategy to address environment issues of the town to the DENR – 7 after the cleanup.

The state’s environmental bureau earlier said they have yet to discuss this Tuesday, June 5, on how to implement the court order.

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