DENR padlocks Korean-owned restaurant in Taal Lake

SAN PEDRO, Laguna—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday closed down a P5-million floating restaurant in Taal Lake owned by a Korean firm for its failure to build a waste disposal system.

The DENR, through the office of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape, served the cease and desist order and a notice of closure to Taal Volcano Jung Ang Leisure and Resort Inc., the same company that was also earlier denied by the DENR a permit to build a spa along the crater of the volcano for violations of environmental laws.

The facility is a two-story structure with a floating restaurant on the top floor and a holding area below for boats that offer rides to tourists around Taal Lake. A 15- to 20-meter concrete walkway connected the facility to the mainland town of Talisay, where the Korean company also owns a separate resort.

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Laudemir Salac, protected area superintendent and community environment and natural resources officer, said the notice of closure was only for the floating structure and not the mainland resort.

According to Salac, his office issued a notice of violation to the Korean company on May 16 for operating without a waste disposal and solid waste management system. The firm did not heed the notice, prompting DENR to order its closure.

The DENR also found that the company failed to secure building and business permits from the municipal government of Talisay.

He said the company was given until Thursday next week to vacate the site before the Task Force Taal Lake, a unit created by the Batangas provincial government, begins to demolish the structure.

“They will have to vacate (the area) immediately,” Salac said.

Kris Byun, restaurant manager, refused to comment on the closure order saying the company’s lawyers would soon issue a statement.

The facility, one of the major attractions in Talisay since it opened in 2009, draws in a daily average of 200 to 400 tourists, mostly Koreans.

It is owned by Jung Ang Interventure Corp., the same company that earlier sought to build a spa on the mouth of Taal Volcano. The DENR in 2007, however, revoked the environmental compliance certificate issued for the spa project due to violations of environmental laws and strong opposition from residents and environmental groups.

Talisay Mayor Zenaida Mendoza Thursday said the local government supported the DENR move to shut down the establishment.

Although Mendoza admitted its closure might affect tourism in Talisay, “we have several other resorts here anyway.”

Salac said the DENR had identified 15 other structures, among them resorts and wharves, that are “encroaching” on Taal Lake and have been warned about it.

Taal Lake was declared a protected area in 1996 through a presidential proclamation.