The National Bureau of Investigation said Saturday its agents arrested four foreign nationals and six Filipinos for encroaching on forestland in Barangay Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.
NBI Officer-in-Charge Director Eric Distor identified the foreign nationals as Stephen Field (British), Mark Harrington (British), Michielsen Dirk Josef (Belgian), Maria Victoria Schafer (Australian), and the six Filipino suspects as Mary Irish Guerra, Johnson Jacinal, Patricia Ann Varga, Oscar delos Santos, Arturo Revillame, and Paul Sajise.
Distor said the NBI received a letter-request from Natividad Benandino, General Manager of Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group requesting assistance in the enforcement of environmental laws in the Island of Boracay against non-compliant establishments.
On November 24, 2020, after a series of surveillance activities, operatives from NBI-Environmental Crime Division (NBI-EnCD) conducted an operation against nine establishments found to be encroaching forestland per certification coming from DENR.
All the establishments were never issued any tenurial instrument nor any other permits by the DENR. In the course of the operation, the 10 above-named individuals, identified as owners and care takers and presently in possession of the erring establishments, were arrested.
Sea View Apartment, Aloha Villa, La Dolce Vita/Casa Monte, Private Mountain Casitas Boracay Inn, Cohiba Villas, Carolina Park View, and Boracay Sunshine Shuttle and Limousine Corporation are the non-compliant establishments in the forestland areas and the 25+5 meter beach easement, as bared by the information and documents provided by Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) and Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) in Boracay Island.
The aforesaid commercial establishments are big structures in Forestland Block E in Brgy Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.
The fact that these structures were built in Forestland which is considered land of the Public Domain violates Section 20 in relation to Section 78 of Presidential Decree 705 otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, regarding the lack of permit, lease or any tenurial instrument from the government and unlawful occupation of Forestland, the NBI said.
Other structures that violated the 25+5 meter beach easement no-build zone mandated under Malay, Aklan Municipal Ordinance are Artista Beach Villas and Monkey House.
The violation was committed since the structures or portion of it falls within the 25+5 meter beach easement no-build zone classified as Forest Land.
Notwithstanding their violation of Municipal Ordinance and the issuance of a Notice to Self Demolition, Artista Beach Villas and Monkey House have continuously defied the law. Their continued structural presence in 25+5 meter beach easement no-build zone which is part of the public forest is tantamount to occupation of forest land punishable under PD 705.
Arrested suspects were brought to the Prosecutor’s Office of Kalibo, Aklan for inquest proceedings for violation of PD 705 (Revised Forestry Code), PD 1067 (The Philippine Water Code), and the 25+5 meter beach easement ordinance of Malay, Aklan.