Get permits ready for inspection, resorts owners told

RESORT owners in Misamis Oriental province could not just operate without securing clearances and permits from the authorities like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Northern Mindanao, the provincial tourism office said, Monday, April 16.

Lawyer Jeffrey Saclot, chief of the provincial tourism office, said they will be summoning resort operators to hear their position and determine their compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

"Sigurado mi, except for some, nga majority of the resorts naka-secure og clearance kay dili mana sila maka put-up sa ilang business ug mag-operate kung wala silay permits from authorities like DENR (We are certain, except for some, that majority of the resorts in the province have secured permits and clearances from authorities like DENR before they operate)," Saclot said.

"We will be calling resort operators para madungog nato ang ilang side kay if there are violations nga na-commit angay lang nga moagi sa sakto nga proseso (We will hear their side because whether they have violations it should go through the process),"he added.

Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny “Bambi” Emano, who has made tourism a key program of his administration, said he has already ordered the tourism office to form a team, including the Capitol's legal department, to look into the issues between the DENR-Northern Mindanao and the resorts.

"Dili ba trabaho sa DENR nga sa wala pa matukod ang mga resorts nag ocular inspection na sila unya karon pa sila nataranta human sa issue sa Boracay (Is it not the job of DENR to check and conduct ocular inspection before resorts were build? Why just now after the Boracay issue?)," Emano asked.

Emano said if the DENR-Northern Mindanao issues immediate closure orders on resorts with supposed violations, the closures would adversely affect the tourism industry of the province.

Misamis Oriental has about a hundred resorts operating in different parts of the province.

But, Saclot clarified that business owners should meet and comply all environmental requirements.

Saclot said they wonder why the issue about the Seven Seas Water Park and Resort in Opol town was raised just now when DENR could have laid down the matter before the construction.

"We believe Seven Seas also go through the process. We should not set aside their right also kay according to them they legally acquired the property," Saclot said.

The provincial tourism office is waiting for the result of the inspection conducted by an inspection team from DENR so they can arrange a dialogue with all affected entities.

"Dili pwede nga diretso ipasara. Maningkamot ang atong office nga ma-protektahan ang interest sa mga operators but the same way kinahanglan i-comply ug motuman ang mga environmental requirements and laws (It’s not right that resorts will be closed down immediately. Our office will try its best to protect the interest of the resort operators),"Saclot added.

Meanwhile, the top official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the region cautioned government officials against making pronouncements that may have adverse effects on the booming tourism industry.

DOT-Northern Mindanao director May Salvana-Unchuan also reminded resort owners that the government's decision to close Boracay should serve as a lesson for investors to practice due diligence before investing.

"Anything that is unverified should not be spread because it is unfair to our investors but this is also a lesson in due diligence for our investors, to make sure that they know all about the land they are buying for instance. Yes there might be lawyers who are tasked to do that, but owners should double-check and study further" Salvana-Unchuan said.

"Porke gihatagan ka sa munisipyo ug permit (although the local government gives you a permit), that does not mean you don't violate anything like in Boracay it's the same thing, the law is the law. Kita gyud mismo mobasa gyud sad ta (even us we should read, because later it's not acceptable kung muingon lang ta na wala ta kahibalo ana (if we only say we don't know anything about it)," she said.

Salvana-Unchuan said a regional inter-agency task force is conducting an evaluation of the resorts and doing ocular inspections in tourist spots and see if they are violating environmental laws.