A cousin of former President Benigno Aquino III has been charged before the Department of Justice for alleged violations of environmental laws of his posh resort in Boracay Island.
In a complaint, the National Bureau of Investigation accused Ramon Cojuangco Jr., owner of Asya Boracay and Asya Premier Suites in Barangay Manoc-Manoc, of violating Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
The complaint filed by the NBI Task Force Boracay included as respondents for the same criminal charge other executives of Cojuangco’s resorts registered under Playa Asya Resort Inc.
The bureau charged the resort owners of unlawful occupation of forest land since the land on which the resorts were constructed is classified as forest land. It said the law prohibits the building of permanent structures on forest land.
“There is no question that portion of the land where Asya Premier Suites was constructed is classified as a forest land under Presidential proclamation 1064. The investors of occupants and structure within forestland in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, which the Enforcement Section of CENRO Boracay submitted to the DENT, shows that Asya Premier Suites has constructed sic structures, two of which are permanent structures with a total area of 4,511 square meters and a total of 155 square meters are of temporary structures or a total of 4,666 square meters,” the complaint stated.
The NBI also recommended charges of violations of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, against local executives led by Malay, Aklan Mayor Ceciron Cawaling and former Mayor John Yap.
Aside from Cojuangco’s firm, the NBI also filed separate but similar charges against owners of two other resorts—Skygarden De Boracay in Barangay Balabag and Kingfisher’s Farm and Lodging in Barangay Manoc-Manoc.
Graft charges were also recommended against Cawaling, Yap and other incumbent and former local government officials in the two other complaints.
Last week, the NBI also filed graft and malversation charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against Calawing, Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores, Vice Gov. Reynaldo Quimpo and other local officials over the alleged misuse of P84 million in Boracay funds.Last July, the NBI filed similar against owners of Boracay West Cove, Denichi Boracay Corporation, Seven Seas Boracay, Tanawin Resort and Karuna Boracay Suites as well as local officials of Malay town.
The world-renowned tourist destination reopened last Oct. 26 after a six-month closure to tourists for rehabilitation.