Lapu residents asks Ombud to suspend barangay execs

Lapu-Lapu City Hall
Lapu-Lapu City Hall SunStar File

OFFICIALS of Barangay Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City are facing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for alleged violations of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; and RA 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989.

The complaint stemmed from the ship-clearing operations of mv Diamond Highway in Sitio Proper Jansen.

The respondents are Barangay Captain Crisanto Estardo and Barangay Council Members Mario Bacali, Elizabeth Martin, Carlito Pagobo, Marko Jonas Estardo, Vicente Dungog, Rebecca Adamos and Ranulfo Abejo Jr.

The complainants want them to be placed under preventive suspension.

Residents of Sitios Lupa, Colo, Proper Jansen and Mangal have reported an outbreak in skin diseases and an increase in respiratory issues since the ship-clearing operations began in late 2023.

They attributed their ailments to the fiber dust from the activity that has allegedly contaminated the environment.

The complaint highlights other adverse effects, including loud noise from salvage operations and an oil spill that contaminated nearby seawater.

Josie Hayashi, who resigned as barangay administrator last week, told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, that the ship-clearing continued because the barangay council passed a resolution approving the operations three days after Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan issued a cease and desist order (CDO) last Jan. 31.

“All the barangay officials signed to allow the operations to continue,” she said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

SunStar Cebu tried to get the side of Barangay Captain Estardo through several phone calls on Tuesday afternoon, but to no avail.

“What we really want to do is investigate the barangay officials why this is happening because I heard there is another shipping firm involved,” Hayashi said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

The complainants said the barangay officials violated Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 by allegedly giving unwarranted benefits, undue advantage, or preference to the management of mv Diamond Highway and Pilipinas Precious Metals Resources Inc. (PPMRI), and Section 4 (c) of RA 6713 for alleged actions contrary to public safety and interest by permitting the ship-breaking operations, which pose serious environmental and health risks.

They also accused barangay officials of grave misconduct under RA 6770 for failing to enforce the mayor’s CDO and protect them from the harmful effects of the operations.

In a press statement to SunStar Cebu, they pointed out that the CDO stated PPMRI’s violations of environmental protocols during salvage operations. However, barangay officials allegedly failed to demonstrate that PPMRI had implemented corrective measures to manage hazardous wastes before resuming operations. / CAV

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