DENR not extending deadline for easement

Apart from clearing the crowded beaches and citing establishments for a range of violations including pollutive waste management practices, the DENR had also begun an inspection of residences and commercial establishments that were occupying supposed public or timberland areas. (File photo)

The regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reminded 32 business owners in El Nido on Wednesday that they only have until April 11 to demolish their structures that are occupying the coastal easement zone.

DENR MIMAROPA regional director Natividad Bernardino said in a text message to Palawan News that if they fail to remove them in eight days, her agency has no choice but to enforce the law.

“We have no choice but to enforce the law. They will be forcibly demolished after the April 11 deadline if they don’t start self-demolition now,” Bernardino said.

The DENR had earlier denied a request for extension until the end of the peak season this year made by the Cottages, Resorts and Restaurants Association of El Nido (CRRAEN).

CRRAEN’s recourse was to accommodate earlier reservations by guests up to the end of June.

But Bernardino has remained firm in her decision, saying the El Nido Task Force will oversee the dismantling the business owners will have to perform in the coming days.

“The members of the task force will supervise the demolition of each and every establishment and determine how long each one will take to finish the demolition. But we have to start now,” said Bernardino.

Bernardino added that within the week, the task force will be serving eviction notices to around 300 occupants of timberland-classified areas, including hotels and restaurants along the shoreline of Barangay Corong-Corong.

“If they are on the salvage zone, they need to move out. If not, we will respect the titles issued [to them] prior to the land classification map of 1941,” she emphasized.

Everyone will be issued notices, she stated, but will also be asked to produce evidence that their occupation of the timberland areas is lawfully sanctioned.

“If they are able to produce titles, we will scrutinize each title and determine applicability of the law,” she added.

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