Mayor Nieves Rosento (4th from right, in white shirt) of El Nido, municipal tourism officer Arvin Acosta (5th from right, in white-yellow collared shirt), and other LGU officials facilitated on March 9 the permanent closure of Cuna luxury hotel for numerous environmental law violations. (Photo by Bella Mutia)

A luxury hotel in El Nido was ordered closed by Mayor Nieves Rosento for violating environmental laws and lack of permits to operate.

In Executive Order No. 19-008 issued on March 8 by Mayor Rosento, she said Cuna Hotel was ordered closed permanently for operating without a business permit, no occupancy permit, illegal discharge of untreated wastewater, disposing of untreated wastewater to the nearby barangays causing discomfort and pollution, no test result of its safe water quality and defiance of the hotel management to the closure order.

On March 9, Rosento with municipal tourism officer Arvin Acosta and other municipal government officials personally went to Cuna to facilitate the implementation of the closure order.

Rosento said she earlier issued a temporary closure order on the hotel but its management filed a case against the municipal government instead of complying with the requirements.

Mayor Nieves Rosento (in the white t-shirt, 1st from right) with municipal sanitation officer Catherine Baluarte (in a black shirt, 2nd from right) explains to foreign guests of the Cuna Hotel on March 9 the reason why it was ordered permanently closed. (Photo by Bella Mutia)

After a series of hearings, the court issued a 20- day temporary restraining order (TRO) to the hotel which lapsed in February.

“Nag-issue tayo ng order na kailangan ihinto ang kanilang operation. Itong Cuna ay binigyan natin ng temporary closure order noong mga nakaraan kung saan tayo pa ay kinasuhan sa korte. Then binigyan sila ng court 20 days na TRO pero hanggang ngayon walang court order. But tapos na ang TRO nila kaya dapat nagco-comply na sila then hindi naman sila nagstop ng operation. They don’t have any barangay clearance and business permit,” she said.

Last week, Rosento said they issued an order informing the Cuna Hotel management that they will be closed if they continue accepting guests.

She said the management of the hotel refused to provide the names of their guests.

She explained they gave the management enough time to comply but to no avail.

“We issued an order for three days informing them that they should not accept any guest pero tanggap pa rin sila ng tanggap and we are requesting them kung ilan ang kanilang guest occupant but ayaw nila tanggapin ang sulat namin, ang manager ay hindi na rin natin makausap. Matagal na panahon na ang ibinigay na palugit sa kanila since nagkaroon ng mga environmental violation, hanggang dumami na ang violations,” Rosento pointed out.

Personnel of the El Nido Municipal Police Station stand outside the building of Cuna Hotel which was ordered permanently closed by Mayor Nieves Rosento. Two tarps marked with the text “CLOSED” can be seen posted on the windows of the beleaguered luxury hotel. (Photo courtesy of Bella Mutia)

She also said they have offered assistance to the affected guests and advised them to transfer to other hotels.

“The local government of El Nido is now offering assistance for all the guest who will be affected with this closure order. They were transferred in other accommodations,” Rosento said.

Meanwhile, she clarified that they have no other motive behind the closure but the compliance of environmental laws since the town is under a six-month Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) order.

“Masyadong nagmamatigas itong management, we want to show them, dahil mayroong batas na sinusunod sa El Nido on the protection of the environment. We are now in the rehabilitation process tapos ganito kalaking establishment ay magkakaroon ng violation. If they are complaining walang problema, but ang masakit doon violator kana nag-file ka pa ng case against the government,” Rosento said.

She also reminded all establishments in the town to coordinate with the local government regarding their environmental and business permit compliance.

“Kapag may temporary closure order ka dapat makipag-coordinare ka na sa local government unit (LGU). Kaya nga temporary dahil you have to comply. We are in the rehabilitation process kaya itong mga ginagawa natin ay hindi ito panggigipit sa mga establishment but we have to implement the rule of law. This is not a violation against the individual but to the republic,” she said.