The Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape has a total land area of 200,115 hectares encompassing four northern municipalities including El Nido, Roxas, Taytay and Dumaran. (Photo courtesy of Rommel M. Cruz)

Beatriz Zobel de Ayala on Tuesday denied allegations she illegally occupied portions of the a protected area in Taytay, northern Palawan and conducted an illegal reclamation.

Lawyer Christopher Louie Ocampo, counsel of Beatriz Zobel de Ayala, issued a statement reacting to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) issuance of a notice to vacate (NTV) an area in Barangay Pancol, Taytay.

Ocampo said they have yet to receive a copy of the DENR notice, but pointed out that the complaint that served as the basis for the order was not filed by parties representing the indigenous people in Taytay town.

“In fact, the Council of Elders of NTTPB issued Resolution No. 37, series of 2020, disowning the complaint for having been filed without its knowledge and authority,” Ocampo said.

“In any event, she will coordinate with the government authorities on this matter, comply with their lawful directives, and explore her legal options,” the statement added.

Allan Valle, chief of Community Environment and Natural Resources (Community ENRO) Taytay-El Nido, in a separate interview on Tuesday said that the notice was given to allow voluntary demolition of the structures encroaching the forest land in Barangay Pancol, Taytay town.

“Due process dictates that we give them 30 days, and three subsequent notices. That was only the first notice and they have yet to officially respond,” Valle said.

The notice to vacate was signed on March 6, but was only issued on March 12.

The Ayalas reportedly purchased parcels of land within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the town, with plans to turn into an agricultural farm. Valle added however that certain structures have encroached insde the timberland area which is protected under Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; and Republic Act (RA) 7586 as amended by RA 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018.

“We are going to send a team probably first week of July to see if they have complied with our notice,” Valle added.

Ocampo however insisted that all the activities of Zobel de Ayala were with the full knowledge, consent, and participation of the communities, especially the Taytay IPs.

Ocampo maintained that Zobel de Ayala’s activities secured necessary permits, clearances, or applications for the lawful use of the property.

Ocampo also denied Zobel de Ayala’s involvement on alleged reclamation activities in towns of Coron and El Nido.

“In El Nido, her activities are limited to food and retail while she has not pursued any business in Coron. In Taytay, Palawan, her activities are limited to greenhouse vegetable farming and holding of medical missions,” Ocampo said.

(With a report from Patricia Laririt)

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.