Interior dept to probe alleged forest-clearing in Boracay

Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2018 04:59 PM | Updated as of May 16 2018 09:48 PM

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MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Authorities will investigate reports that mountain and forest areas were cleared to give way to the construction of a road that leads to a beach resort in Boracay island.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) received word on the alleged environmental destruction only on Tuesday, said Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III.

Authorities said they expect the alleged owner of the land, Costa Vista, to issue a statement on the matter. New construction on the island is prohibited as it undergoes a 6-month-long clean-up.

In a statement, the Villars' Vista Land said it has complied with all regulations and obtained necessary permits for the construction of its Costa Vista development project

"As early as February this year, we have slowed down our development works, and have accordingly reduced the number of equipment and workers, in the area," said Ma. Nalen SJ. Rosero
Chief Legal Counsel of Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. 

"Significantly, the images appearing in the articles do not pertain to our project site. The area subject of our development is a developed resort with existing facilities. Moreover, it is our policy to respect and preserve the natural topography of the land. To do so is not only structurally sound but more importantly, environmentally friendly," she said, referring to photos published by ABS-CBN News. 

Since the island's shutdown began on April 26, authorities have also unearthed 3 illegal sewage pipes on the island and only one has been traced to its origin.

President Rodrigo Duterte in February flagged massive water pollution on the island, likening its effects to a "cesspool."

The first inter-agency meeting since the closure started is scheduled on Friday.