Resort owner: DENR singling us out

Pamela Jay F. Orias

THE owner of the Seven Seas Water Park and Resort in Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental believes that a group of claimants is behind moves pushing for the cancellation of his property title.

Engineer Elpidio Paras, president of UC-1 Corporation which owns and operates the theme park, said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) statement alleging that the property where the water park now stands is classified as a timberland.

"Nakurat nalang mi nga kalit lang ang DENR nagsulti nga timberland nga wala man na sila nagsulti kadtong gipatitulohan pa namo ang property, dugay na nga panahon (We were surprised that the DENR suddenly said it is a timberland area. They did not tell us that way back when we were still applying for the title)," Paras said.

"Nakurat mi nga naa man diay kuno ga-claim anang mga lugara pero wala man sab silay gikapakita nga mga papel, so sila siguro nangusog nga ipatangtang ang titulo para maangkon nila, naa gyud isa ka grupo diha ga-claim pero wala pa ko kaila nila (We were surprised that there are those claiming our property but they cannot show us their documents, so maybe these are also the same people who are pushing to cancel our title so they can own it themselves, there is one group but I do not know them yet)," he added.

Paras scored the DENR for apparently singling them out.

"Ang katingalahan lang is ang tanang abay namo nga properties diha titulado tanan, unya wala man lagi sila mag-question. Nganu kadto raman amoa ang gi-question (It's also odd that the DENR is only questioning us, when the properties beside us have also their own titles and have acquired the land the same way we do, but why only question us)," Paras said.

"We are thanking to those who support us and believe that we got the property in the right way, through judicial process," he added.

Department of Tourism (DOT) regional director May Salvaña-Unchuan said the DOT will continue to promote the water park which, she said, is a top destination in the region drawing over 20,000 tourists since it opened last December.

Unchuan also advised members of the media to verify reports especially on the reported closure.

"There is no closure order. We acknowledge the investment of Seven Seas, dili na sayon ingana nga facility, daghan sab nakatrabaho diha, how about the people kung ipaclose na nimo it's also unfair to the people who are working there, to the management, maka-panic and it's not helping ba (It's not easy building that facility, and it generated many jobs, it creates panic and it's not helping)," Unchuan said.

"We will continue to promote Seven Seas, a world-class facility that has been very much helpful in the tourism industry of the region," she added.

Lawyer Florenda Lamasaon-Yap, chief of DENR-Northern Mindanao's legal division, said in a round table discussion last week that they are seeking the cancellation of the land title of the 20-hectare property that UC-1 acquired from LS Properties in 2010.

Since the area is timberland, the DENR said the property should not be owned by any private company as it is part of the public domain.