Aquino cousin named in lawsuit alleging forestry violations in Boracay

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2018 06:36 PM

The NBI Task Force Boracay accused Playa Asya Resort, along with Kingfisher’s Farm and SkyGarden de Boracay, with their owners and officers, of violating the provisions of the Revised Forestry Code in allegedly unlawfully occupying forest lands. File/Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA—A cousin of former President Benigno Aquino III has been named one of the respondents in the new batch of criminal complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation with the Department of Justice on Monday over alleged environmental and graft violations in Boracay.

Ramon Cojuangco Jr. is being sued in his capacity as president of Playa Asya Resort, which operates Asya Boracay and Asya Premier Suites, and as principal stockholder of its parent company, Gorgeous Holdings Inc.

The NBI Task Force Boracay accused Playa Asya Resort, along with Kingfisher’s Farm and SkyGarden de Boracay, with their owners and officers, of violating the provisions of the Revised Forestry Code in allegedly unlawfully occupying forest lands.

In addition, Kingfisher’s Farm, a fishpond developed into a specialty lodging, is accused of aquatic pollution under the Philippine Fisheries Code.

Together with past and current local government officials, the owners and officers of the three resorts are also accused of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Local Government Code.

Among the government officials named in the complaints are Malay, Aklan municipal Mayor Ceciron Cawaling, former Malay municipal Mayor John Yap, engineers, zoning administrators, provincial and municipal assessors, other local government officials and some environment officers who issued licenses, clearances, permits or endorsements which allowed the 3 resorts to operate.

The Office of the Ombudsman suspended Cawaling in October, on the eve of Boracay’s reopening after a 6-month shutdown, as he faces separate administrative complaints for allegedly issuing business permits to more than 2,000 establishments on the island without the required fire-safety clearance, building code certificates and other necessary documents.

This is the second batch of complaints filed by the NBI with the DOJ in connection with the Boracay environmental mess.