MANILA - The Department of the Interior and Local Government denied Wednesday that Malacañang has given the order to suspend the demolition of the controversial West Cove Resort in Boracay island.
Hotel owner Crisostomo Aquino, in a media report, claimed that he received a copy of the order to stop the demolition from the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs.
"Baka fake news din po iyan," DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III told radio DZMM.
(That's probably fake news.)
"Wala ho kaming natatanggap na ganiyang sulat. As far as we're concerned, as of today, tuloy-tuloy po ang pagdi-demolish ng West Cove. In fact, as of 5 minutes ago lang, may instruction pa kay [DILG] Secretary [Eduardo] Año na bilis-bilisan," he explained.
(We received no such letter. As far as we're concerned, as of today, the demolition of West Cove continues. In fact, just 5 minutes ago Secretary Año got instructions to speed it up.)
The environment department cancelled West Cove's permit to use forest land for tourism due to alleged violations. The resort management appealed the decision to Malacañang.
The Office of the President's legal affairs division wrote a letter on the issue, but only to say that it has yet to decide on Aquino’s appeal, said Densing.
He added that even if Aquino's claim is true, Malacañang has no authority to stop the demolition because it is under the jurisdiction of the local government.
Densing also pointed out that West Cove straddles a no-build zone.
West Cove's demolition comes amid the 6-month closure of Boracay, which President Rodrigo Duterte ordered after flagging inadequate sewage that turned some waters into "cesspools."
The government has found several pipelines discharging wastewater into Boracay's beachfront.
Several young sharks were spotted recently in Boracay's shallow waters, an indication that the island is starting to heal, said Densing.
Authorities, he said, are also verifying reports that a forest in Barangay Yapak was flattened by construction workers.