Permit for Pacman Resort was issued by former DENR chief Lito Atienza; Pacquiao denies he is a stakeholder

(SPOT.ph) It was former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza, known to be a close friend of boxing champ and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao, who issued the lease agreement for the construction of the controversial West Cove Hotel in Boracay Island in 2009, reports ABS-CBN News. Last week, West Cove, dubbed the Pacman Resort by the public, was shut down by the local government of Malay, Aklan, for violating the building code and endangering the environment.

In an interview with DZMM, current DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said he recalled that an order was issued in 2008 to halt the processing of permits in the entire island until a survey of the area had been done. He was then the department’s undersecretary. All establishments had to go through the proper titling process to acquire what the government deemed alienable or disposable.

According to the report, Paje agreed with the local government's decision to close West Cove. He also explained that apart from a building permit, an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) is also needed, and for an ECC to be issued, a Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes had to be filed first.

The Inquirer reports that Atienza issued West Cove a Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) which allows the temporary use, occupation and development of any forest land for tourism purposes for a period of 25 years and is renewable for the same period. The agreement was issued in spite of complaints that the resort was built over a coral reef.

Pacquiao has denied any stake in the resort. It is supposedly owned by his close friend, Crisostomo Aquino.

For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBN News.

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