The Island Garden City of Samal officials are girding to condone the penalties imposed to beach resort owners who have built and have not demolished their illegal jetties since an anti-jetty ordinance was enacted in 2009.
“I was the vice mayor at that time when the City Ordinance (Number 150-2009) was enacted, and beach resort owners were paying their penalties during the first three years of implementation, but they stopped on the fourth year,” recalled Vice Mayor Orly Amit, who is on his first term on his comeback second-round term.
A jetty is “a structure that projects from the land out into water. Often, ‘jetty’ refers to a walkway accessing the centre of an enclosed waterbody,”Wikipedia defines.
The ordinance is against the construction of jetties and other prohibited structures within the easement, foreshore areas and shorelines of Samal Island.
Amit explained that it is the Water Code that outlaws jetties along the seashore and the ordinance just provided penalties until the beach resort owners demolished their jetties.
The country’s first Water Code was made in 1974, he said, adding that some beach owners then were reasoning out they constructed before that year, and so they asserted they were not covered by the law.
On Tuesday session of the City Council, the vice mayor told councilors “we have to face this issue head-on… and beach owners should know” following endorsement of Mayor Al David Uy “to condone’ the penalties of beach resort owners, which needs a legislation by the City Council.
Many beach resort owners accordingly have accumulated penalties of more than P50,000 in a year while they did not demolish their jetties. The penalty is computed by cubic meters of the jetty built.
Councilor Charles Ligan said that the condonation is in order citing that the law says penalties should be “just and not excessive.”
He said that penalties of some beach resort owners are greater than the real property taxes of same beach resorts, advancing that the imposition of penalties should be based on the City Tax Code.
Councilor Guillermo Olden, on the other hand, said that a measure of giving condonation needs first a modification on the existing City Land Use Plan, for which there is need for thorough discussions and a technical team.
Vice Mayor Amit however warned of making legislation running on ex post facto law, a law that makes illegal an act that was legal when committed. The Constitution prohibits the making of ex post facto law.
He also said giving condonation might be “beyond our power” to legislate.
Councilor Jan Albert Ortiz, on the other hand, said that jetties make the shorelines like private resorts. “If they can make expensive jetties, how much more can they afford to pay for security of the jetty?”
He however said that in Barangay Tagpopongan, where he was once the barangay captain, is free of jetty as they have a barangay ordinance prohibiting it.
Councilor Ruel Bantillo recalled that the issue of jetty has long been an old issue and it gets tiresome already each time the discussion on the issue is repeated.
He called for final resolution on the issue even as he dragged private jetties and floated a possibility in question that: “what about one among these would be used by terrorists to enter the island via private pump boat or chartered seacraft?”
Pending the measure on condonation, meanwhile beach resort owners would be given probationary permit to operate.
Meanwhile, Jojo Tejano of the Samal Watch and Philippine Children’s Ministries Network, said that if there is condonation, “in exchange they should therefore demolish their illegal jetties, and that would be dream come true for the Samalenyos.”
In an interview, Tejano said that it should not “only jetties that should be torn down but most importantly the fences that deprive people free access to the shores especially the marginal fisherfolks.”
He added “there should only be designated ports around the island for security purposes and to boost local transport industry.”
A lot of islanders have been complaining for years that due to fencing and jetty-making activities in the island’s shoreline they have been denied of the free use of the public shorelines.
Fisherfolks, too, have been complaining that the island has been staked on, squatted and enclosed by private interests almost all over that they no longer have landing areas in the seashore.
Samal Island is considered as the top beach resort destination in Davao Region. (mindanaosunchronicle.com/Cha Monforte)