Tuesday, June 18, 2019

2 disaster officers to take witness stand next month

HEARING. Lawyer Benjamin Cabrido (right) chats with Provincial Legal Officer Orvi Ortega during the hearing on the issuance of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order against Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (SunStar photo / Arni Aclao)

TWO disaster officers from the City of Naga and the Cebu Provincial Government will appear in court next month to testify that last September’s landslide continues to affect the environment.

Lawyer Benjamin Cabrido had asked City of Naga Risk Reduction and Management Office Head Ritche Cabigon and Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office Head Baltazar Tribunalo to take the witness stand on Feb. 7.

“Cabigon will testify that there is a continuing effect of the landslide, while Tribunalo will testify on his experience on how dangerous the mountain was when they conducted the rescue operation after the landslide,” Cabrido said.

Cabrido and other volunteer-lawyers filed a P4.5-billion damage suit against the Apo Land and Quarry Corp. (ALQC) following last September’s landslide.

During the hearing on Thursday, Jan. 10, Cabrido and his team of volunteer-lawyers insisted that there was a basis to issue a temporary environmental protection order (Tepo) against the ALQC.

In a manifestation, lawyers from the Office of the Solicitor General pointed out that ALQC’s operation had been suspended by regulatory agencies since Sept. 21. The only activity the firm is allowed in the area where the landslide occurred is to implement the hazard reduction plan, which seeks to stabilize the area and to ensure the safety of residents.

Because of these issuances, Cabrido said there was a need for the court to grant the Tepo.

“It (Tepo) will complement the issues presented,” he said.

But lawyer Eduardo Soleng, who represents ALQC, believed otherwise. He said there was no extreme urgency to issue a Tepo, adding that his client’s operation continued to be suspended.

“The very purpose why the plaintiffs are asking for the Tepo to be issued is that our quarry operation must be halted because the things can finally be decided by this honorable court. But as stated and confirmed by records, there is no ground for issuance of Tepo because we are not operating right at this very moment,” Soleng said.

The Regional Trial Court in the City of Naga also issued a Tepo against the ALQC last November.


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