Beach resort owned by GenSan mayor’s family ordered closed for flouting COVID-19 protocols

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 19 April)– The city government temporarily shut down on Monday a popular beach resort owned by the family of City Mayor Ronnel Rivera for violating health protocols and related regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The closure of the Dolores Tropicana Resort, which is located at Purok Cabu in Barangay Tambler, came a day after it hosted a night party and reggae concert that turned rowdy and sparked a riot.

Video footages that circulated on Facebook showed a huge crowd at the venue on Saturday night, some without face masks and not observing safe physical distancing, with fights eventually erupting and chairs thrown in the air.

Geraldine Zamora, head of the business permits and licensing division, said the closure was authorized by the mayor himself.

She said they also suspended the resort’s license to operate pending an investigation into the incident, especially the violations that it committed.

In a letter served to the resort management around noon, the official said the license suspension and closure order are mainly due to their failure to comply with the health protocols set by the City Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases.

Zamora said Tropicana hosted the controversial event, dubbed “Rise Up Reggae Night Jam,” without the CIATF approval and the necessary special permit.

She said it failed to implement the minimum health standards, specifically the safe physical distancing, and violated the restriction on mass gathering as well as the 12 midnight to 4 a.m. curfew.

“This serves also as a show cause order for you and the event organizer to explain why you should not be held liable of the violations committed,” Zamora said in the letter.

Mayor Rivera and the resort management have not yet issued any statement on the matter. But the resort opted to cease its operations voluntarily before the serving of the city government’s closure order.

Records showed that Tropicana was officially informed last March 29 by the City Mayor’s Office that its request to conduct the “in-house event” was denied due to the CIATF’s decision.

The letter, signed by the mayor’s executive assistant Dave Arreglado, was addressed to Romualdo E. Ambito, events and promotions officer of Tropicana Worldwide Corp.

Tropicana Worldwide, which is a member of the RD Group of Companies owned by the Rivera family, operates the resort.

An online poster showed 13 bands joining the event that was held “in celebration of 4:20,” which is described by various online references as related to “cannabis-oriented celebrations,” which take place annually every April 20. (Richelyn Gubalani / MindaNews contributor)