Tension briefly occurred as Garcia was involved in a heated argument with one of the affected operators of cottages and kiosks in the area.
While meeting with the affected operators and residents, she became more pissed when a certain Willy Saldua insisted that his and others' structures should not be demolished without a court order.
Saldua built a kiosk at the river with concrete floor and bamboo walls. Like the other 44 illegal structures due for demolition, he has no business permit from the municipal government.
Garcia ordered the closure of the tourist attraction for a week or until the provincial government is finished with the demolition.
But Saldua's structures were started to be demolished yesterday.
The demolition of the structures will take a week because it will be done manually. Heavy equipment cannot be brought to the site.
The provincial government had asked the operators to demolish their structures built within the 20-meter easement zone two years ago.
Before the Holy week, Garcia again issued notices for the demolition of the illegal structures, but heeded the residents' appeal to give them until April 15 to demolish their structures.
When she visited the area yesterday, she was surprised to see that the residents did not comply with the agreement.
Al Orolfo, head of the Protected Areas and Wildlife and Coastal Management Services of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, confirmed that those illegal structures due for demolition have no business permit from the municipal government.
He said he is yet to verify with the Environmental Management Bureau the claim of the operators that they were able to secure an Environment Compliance Certificate. An ECC is, however, not a basis for the legitimacy of a business.
Garcia reprimanded Badian Mayor Robert Librando for allowing cottages to sprout without a business permit and within the 20-meter easement.
Librando admitted that they have overlooked the matter.The municipal government of Badian earns about P50,000 to P70,000 monthly from these business operators.
The Capitol has deployed at least 20 policemen to secure the area. — /LPM (FREEMAN)