The Sta. Fe case

By: Editorial June 05,2018 - 09:23 PM

Enforcing a court order to dismantle 21 structures that were found to have encroached into the 20 meter easement zone in Sta. Fe town, Bantayan Island in northern Cebu should be a priority for local officials lest it develops into a more serious environmental problem for the affected community.

Unless of course the resort owners manage to secure a temporary restraining order from the court.

The Sta. Fe municipal government also has yet to signify its intention to implement the order issued by the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City as requested by local environmental groups.

And it may look like they won’t heed it if they listen instead to the clamor of Sta. Fe tourism stakeholders to retain the structures and propose an alternative strategy to clean their surroundings and stop the ongoing erosion of the coastal area on their own terms.

Prioritizing profit over the environment, even with verbal assurances from those profiting from violating environmental laws usually don’t end well even if the consequences won’t be felt in the next decade or so.

In defending their claim to continue staying within the 20-meter easement zone, the resort owners and vendors say these structures are their source of livelihood which gives them incentive to prioritize “protecting the environment.”

As if a promise to conduct a June 9 cleanup isn’t enough, the Sta. Fe Tourism Enterprise Association said they will present a five-point program to make good on their promise to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local officials.

That strategy certainly won’t involve relocating to a better site away from the 20-meter easement zone as required by the court order and by law since it would cost them an arm and a leg to do so.

But again, the prospect of losing their livelihood caused the association to lose sight over the possibility that their presence can cause the further deterioration of the coastline.

Even if the association’s claim that the Sta. Fe port caused the soil erosion proved accurate, it is no guarantee that their presence and won’t contribute to accelerating the soil erosion of the area.

While the demolition order is challenged in court, the DENR should conduct further studies to build their case for the demolition.

For now, local officials won’t take any action to demolish these structures, not with the election close to a year away.

That said, other residents should speak up on the proposed five-point program to be presented by these tourism stakeholders to the DENR so the agency can see for themselves and decide whether or not to add their considerable authority to bear on the municipal government in order to enforce the court order.

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TAGS: case, Sta. Fe

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