Despite closure, resort hotel pays P6.5M real property tax
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
A top-rated tourist destination in Davao City has appealed to the local government to lift a closure order issued for lack of requirements.
Emar’s Resort Hotel & Wavepool was closed down by City Hall in 2011 for lack of approval from the Davao City Council that it cannot secure for lack of special permit from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).
The coastal resort in Times Beach, Matina Aplaya, sits in part on portions of the 24-hectare Davao City Reservation Area, covered by Presidential Proclamation No. 50 issued in 1955 by the late then President Ramon Magsaysay.
Another resort-hotel, Queensland Hotel, has carved out part of the Reservation Area for its Baywalk and shares the same woes as Emar’s.
Emar’s proprietor Leonora D. Lim has appealed to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to at least temporarily lift the closure order issued in 2011 by then Mayor Sara Duterte.
In her letter-appeal, Lim said Emar’s has paid P6.5 million in real property tax and rental in the amount of P700,000 despite its failure to operate.
Lim pleaded to Mayor Duterte that Emar’s be given time to secure a special permit from the PRA, the government agency tasked with issuing special permits to reclamation works.
Emar’s failure to get permits is a case of a merry-go-round.
The Davao City Council would not issue a permit without the PRA imprimatur. The PRA on the other hand needs the endorsement of the city council as requirement for issuance of a special permit. The Business Bureau would not issue business permit without the endorsement of the city council and the special permit from PRA.
“The company has continuously incurred financial reverses, not to mention the workers who were displaced and left unemployed, said Lim. Emar’s employed more than a hundred workers before it was ordered to stop operation.
(Emar’s) is willing….as shown (by) its gesture to submit to all government regulations,” Lim said in the letter appeal.
Lim’s letter-appeal has been endorsed by City Hall to the Davao City Council for action.
The previous City Council was a step away from resolving the Emar’s case but was overtaken by the end of its term in July last year.
The 16th City Council had recommended to City Hall a Lease Contract on the city government property to allow Emar’s to continue to operate.
The City Enterprise Division headed by Jose Guintadcan also recommended Emar’s enter into a Lease Contract, with rental based on recommendations of a Special Pricing Committee that looked into the Emar’s issue. The recommendation was endorsed to City Hall before the 16th City Council bowed out.
The recommendation, however, has not yet been acted upon by the City legal Office.
Earlier in January this year, City Administrator Melchor Quitain said City Hall was not being anti-business when it closed down Emar’s.
We want a win-win solution on the Emar’s issue, he said then.
Emar’s with its state-of-the art wavepool, the first in Mindanao, as its flagship attraction, was, before it was closed down, one of Davao City’s popular tourist-drawing lures.
We are seeking a win-win solution, said Quitain who emphasized that the local government was not being anti-business when it stopped Emar’s operation for lack of requirements.
Quitain had then advised Emar’s to take a first step to revive discussion on its appeal to re-open the facility.
It should appeal to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to recall the closure order issued by then Mayor Sara Duterte, said Quitain.
Emar’s shares its woes with Queensland Hotel which has built a Baywalk also reclaimed from parts of the Reservation Area owned by the city government.
While Emar’s needs a PRA special permit for its reclamation, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has kept its hands off the issue, saying that the Reservation Area being city government property, Emar’s is no longer required to secure a Foreshore Lease Agreement (FLA) from the agency. In committee hearings in the Davao City Council, DENR recommended that the Reservation Area be developed into a business and tourism site to raise revenues in partnership with investors.