Dismal Aroma Beach demolition timeline and sequential paper trail

aroma beach demolition
HUMAN SHIELD. Tensions rise as Aroma Beach occupants try to block the demolition team from entering and destroying their supposedly domicile. January 8, 2020. Photo from San Jose PR Team.

Aroma Beach demolition is legal and necessary as more economically viable projects that could bring in more tourists and economic activities await.

Last January 8, the Demolition Team of Municipality of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro brown down cottages and other infrastructures occupying Aroma Beach.

Tension flared at the beginning of Aroma beach demolition. Individuals occupying the structures tried to raise arm to defend their bread and butter. But the machines and hammer got no ears to back down from their charge. Neither men in red, yellow, and green hard hat blinked an eye.

Their orders are clear. Demolish and dismantle. It’s that clear. They have been preparing for that fateful day. And the time has come.

A question then lingers on. Is the demolition implemented by Mayor Muloy Festin legal?

Based on the number of documents requested by Punto Mindoro which were granted by Municipality of San Jose through PR Team thru Ms. Mary Ann Gener, a series of communications and paper trails were established between the LGU, Aroma Beach structures owner/s, DENR, offices within the LGU and Mayor Muloy Festin.

On the presumption of regularity, San Jose LGU acted within the ambit of its powers either inherently or expressly granted by law in accomplishing Aroma Beach demolition.

Paper Trail

January 17, 2018

By virtue of Memorandum Order No. 2018-01-442-A issued January 17, 2019, Mayor Muloy Festin directed Municipal Engineer/Building Official Edgar V. Masangkay to look into the integrity, electrical and fire safety status of the cottages at Aroma Beach located at Airport Road, Brgy. San Roque.

Said MO further intends to determine if the structures hold in parallel with the requirements of National Building Code of the Philippines and other pertinent laws and regulations.

ME Masangkay thus obliged himself to comply with the directive.

Related story:

January 19, 2018

Municipal Engineer/Building Official Edgar V. Masangkay relayed his report to Mayor Festin through a letter.

According to him, OMECO has stopped serving the cottages as of April 21, 2017 and since then has started utilizing generators for power supply. He also reported that the walls were already dilapidated, being made of light materials.

But more importantly, he found out that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office has long issued a Notice of Violation, July 21, 2014, as per Section 4 of PD1586, Municipal Ordinance No. 672 and Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 4032.

For such, the cottages were condoned for demolition by DENR.

Inside Story:

January 23, 2018

Four days later, ME Masangkay followed up his previously submitted report with another report particularly establishing his observations and illuminating the committed violations as per DENR’s Notice of Violation.

Engr. Masangkay, as per inspection January 19, presented specific provisions of Presidential Decree 856 found to have been violated by Aroma Beach structures. These include Chapter 2 Water Supply (Section 3.4.a.1.1.a, Section 3.4.1.2.d), Section 3 Food Establishment (Section 3.a.1, Section 3.a.6).

Also mentioned were Chapter 18 Refuse Disposal and Chapter 20 Pollution of the Environment.

The report further indicated that Aroma Beach structures went up against provisions of Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of the Philippines, such as Section 48 about prohibited acts – 1. Littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks canals, esteros or parks, and establishment, or causing or permitting the same; 2. The open burning of solid waste; and 3. Causing or permitting the collection of non-segregated or unsorted wastes.

January 24, 2018

Aside from Municipal Engineering/Building Official, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator Joseph Salgado was also directed by Memorandum Order No. 2018-01-442-C to evaluate and assess Aroma Beach Cluster Cottages with reference to Municipal Zoning Ordinance and others.

Salgado put forth the following findings:

  1. The location is within Tourism Zone.
  2. While the cottages subscribe with the present zonation as Tourism Zone, it has been found out that there were unauthorized developments initiated by the occupants of the cluster cottages which are contrary to the initial setup and arrangements with them.
  3. Cottages were used as domicile of the occupants instead of tourism commerce exclusively, contrary to its purpose.
  4. Although the occupants were all leasing these cottages with the local government before, they are now considered illegal settlers by virtue of non-payment of rent since the area was declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in violation of Presidential Decree 1586 in July 21, 2014. Since then, the local government opted to stop their operations.
  5. Since its closure, no zoning clearances have been secured by all the settlers/occupants operating their business in the area/cottages; and,
  6. The Municipality has already updated its Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan (CLWUP) and the Revised and Integrated Zoning Ordinance, and adopted a policy that would prohibit construction and development for occupancy and other structures within a 50-meter easement on top of the 20 meters plus five meters salvage zone imposed by the national government.

February 1, 2018

By the authority of the Municipal Treasurer and noted by Mayor Muloy Festin, San Jose Assistant Municipal Treasurer Maria Lourdes T. Abeleda a NOTICE OF CLOSURE to certain Eric Villamar with address Aroma Beach, San Roque, San Jose Occidental Mindoro.

Received by certain Nene Marcelino on February 2, Asst. Treasurer Abeleda explained a project funded by San Jose LGU, Provincial Government and Department of Tourism if to be constructed by the first quarter of 2018 along Aroma Beach.

aroma beach demolition

It did not however specify what project will be put in place.

Villamar was also informed to immediately vacate the area within three (3) days upon receipt of the notice for his failure to secure necessary permits from the Municipal Government, since 2017, to operate the stalls, limiting his right to conduct any commercial activity.

February 8, 2018

The Community Environment And Natural Resources Office of DENR MIMAROPA issued a certification that the 26,845 SQ where the Aroma Beach Cluster Cottages is situated in a “Land of Public Domain” and is “restricted and prohibited from any mode of disposition, sale, squatting, encroachment, possession or any form of commercialization except on the specified legal used as determined by the Local Government Unit of San Jose thru the enactment of Sangguniang Bayan therefore”.

The Certification was issued as requested by Mayor Muloy Festin and was certified correct by LPDU Chief Engr. Nilo P. Salvador.

February 9, 2018

Just like Eric Villamar, Ruben Insigne received a NOTICE TO VACATE/DEMOLISH, this time from Municipal Engineer/Building Official Edgar V. Masangkay.

ME Masangkay included on the notice for Aroma Beach demoliton a long list of reasons and violations purportedly committed by Insigne and that of his Multi-purpose Cottages located along Aroma Beach which automatically warrant San Jose LGU’s authority to demolish the cottages.

These are:

  • Notice of Violation form DENR dated July 21, 2014 for having violated the provisions of PD 1586 and its implementing rules and regulations
  • Certification from Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office regarding the flood susceptibility of the Aroma Beach area
  • Certification from Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator regarding the updated Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan (CLWUP)
  • Observation from our Sanitary Inspectors of Municipal Health Office in violation of Presidential Decree 856 or Code of Sanitation of the Philippines
  • Municipal Ordinance No. 672 and Sangguniang Bayan No. 4032

He ended the list by echoing Assistant Municipal Treasurer Maria Lourdes T. Abeleda’s statement citing an already proposed and funded project for the area without specifically identifying such.

March 1, 2018

The same NOTICE TO VACATE/DEMOLISH was sent to a certain Lolita Hernandez by ME Masangkay.

March 5, 2018

Office of the Building Official issued DEMOLITON PERMIT to Mayor Muloy Festin.

Signed by ME Masangkay, Engr. Jake S. Corpuz was assigned to oversee the demolition process which is supposedly to be completed within the period of thirty (30) days.

The Permit further provided conditions that the demolition shall only be undertaken only after the building has been vacated and in accordance with Rule XV on Protection and Safety Requirement For Construction And Demolition Of Building/Structure as required by the National Building Code of the Philippines.

September 10, 2018

State Auditor III Krizzian Jade P. Paguio of Commission on Audit Regional Office IV-B, Local Government Sector furnished Mayor Muloy Festin a copy of COA Technical Audit Specialist Inspection Report dated August 20, 2018.

The Report indicated that “the subject cottages/structures are considered ready for demolition”.

The subject Aroma Beach cottages were considered “unstable, unsafe and prone to flashflood as certified by the Municipal Engineer”.

August 27, 2019

Then San Jose LGU Acting Mayor Roderick Agas, acting in place of suspended Mayor Muloy Festin, issued and sent the final and last “PABATID” or reminder to all occupants of Aroma Beach Cottages to vacate the premises having been permitted by Commission on Audit and DENR.

The occupants were given a thirty (30) day grace period to comply.

Compassionately, he explained:

“Batid naming ang inyong hinaing sakaling aming ipatupad ang batas, ngunit bilang mga halal na opisyal ng bayan, kami po ay may mandato na ipatupad ang batas na matagal ng nariyan bago pa po kami manungkulan”.

November 15, 2019

Henry A. Adornado of DENR MIMAROPA Region sought Mayor Muloy Festin’s full support and assistance from “in the implementation of environmental laws and regulations in clearing the easement/foreshore areas within your jurisdiction as the said areas are intended for public use” based on the directives of President Rodrigo Duterte and DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

Adornado reasoned that ecotourism developmental activities were put into hold “due to unlawful occupation in the salvage zone/foreshore land and encroachment of illegal establishments”.

Thus, there is an urgent need for a “clean-up drive and law enforcement efforts to sustain the municipality’s prime tourism destinations” presumably at Aroma Beach.

aroma beach demotion

January 8, 2020

Considering all of the paper trails going into motion and proper channels, the demolition of cottages in Aroma Beach went into full swing.

Sadly, the infamous Aroma Beach contributed a lot in putting the Municipality of San Jose in tourism map on the internet. Scores of tourists have mentioned and injected reviews on different social media platforms and sites. But good things will always come to an end. And Aroma Beach just met its fate – demolition.

Photos from San Jose LGU PR Team

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