Village chief: ‘I’m ready to face charges’

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Thursday, August 14, 2014


ANGELES CITY -- A village chief here said Thursday that he is ready to face charges in court in connection with the alleged presence of an illegal dumpsite along the Abacan River.

Malabanias barangay chairman Reynaldo Gueco clarified that their barangay council established a materials recovery facility (MRF) and not an open dumpsite.

Gueco said that the barangay needs no clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the operation of the MRF because Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 requires every barangay to put facilities for handling and segregation of garbage.

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Scores of residents in said village and environmental groups here are asking Gueco to close down the dumpsite. Some residents signed a petition calling for the closure of the dumpsite.

Engineer Jose Pineda and former councilor Louie Reyes together with seven other Malabanias residents filed before the Regional Trial Court branch 59 in Angeles City a case "Continuing Mandamus, with Prayer for Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO)."

This was made for the court to require Gueco to stop the illegal dumping of garbage and at the same time close the area, said lawyer Francisco Yabut.

The complainants claimed that open and controlled dumps pose serious environmental hazards due to the risks of leakage, contamination, and release of harmful substances into the environment.

These dumps do not have the safety features that will minimize dangers to life, health and property and the government disallowed their use, according to them.

Other petitioners include Antonio Oreta, spouses Luciano and Maria Pamintuan, Violeta Domingo, Ines Luz Mendoza, Alicia Eugenio, and Hermenegilda Rogue.

Section 37 of Republic Act 9003, otherwise known as the "Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000" (“Solid Waste Act”) provides:

"Section 37. Prohibition Against the Use of Open Dumps for Solid Waste. – No open dumps shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs, which constitutes the use of open dumps for solid waste, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act: Provided, That within three (3) years after the effectivity of this Act, every LGU shall convert its open dumps into controlled dumps, in accordance with the guidelines set in Section 41 of this Act: Provided, further, That no controlled dumps shall be allowed five (5) years following effectivity of this Act."

Under Section 48, paragraph (9) of the said law, the establishment or operation of open dumps is prohibited while the same is punished as criminal acts under Section 49, paragraphs (c) and (d).

Yabut said that the provision under Section 37 of the Solid Waste Act, which bans open and controlled dumps, is a mandatory and non-discretionary requirement of the said law.

“The instant petition for prohibition and continuing mandamus is being filed pursuant to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, involving the enforcement or violations of environmental and other related laws, rules and regulations, in order to command the respondent Punong Barangay to desist from further operating and using the illegal open dump in violation of petitioners’ rights to a healthful and balanced ecology, as guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and Republic Act No. 9003, otherwise known as the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000” (“Solid Waste Act”).

This will require the respondent Punong Barangay to enforce provisions of the Solid Waste Act by prohibiting the operation of open and controlled dumps in Barangay Malabanias, Angeles City, pursuant to Sections 37 and 48 of the Solid Waste Act, in relation to Section 389 (b) (1) of the Local Government Code, the lawyer added.

Gueco said that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the city government directed barangay officials to establish their MRF in compliance with RA 9003.

He said that the barangay hired workers to conduct segregation of and sorting of waste inside the facility which was established few months ago.

“We established the MRF only few months ago and we are planning to build a building for our workers,” Gueco said.

He added that the barangay council conducted public hearing and consulted the business sector regarding the putting up of the MRF.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 15, 2014.

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