Anti-graft court orders 90 local officials to explain illegal dump sites

Ombudsman orders 90 local officials to explain illegal dump sites

The Environmental Ombudsman has ordered more than 90 local officials to submit an explanation and comment on the complaint filed against them for violation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 9003).

Close to 30 investigators from the Environmental Ombudsman team have been deployed to serve the orders on the local mayors, vice-mayors and Sanguniang Bayan members of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pamapanga, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Albay, Quezon, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar, Leyte and Palawan.

Local officials were given a non-extendible period of 30 days to submit their explanation and Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan (SCRP) which must include the proposal to immediately close the open dump site. The Environmental Ombudsman also ordered the local officials to detail the specific tasks, activities and legislative action to be completed within six months of SCRP implementation.

In a related update, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales “welcomed as good development the action taken by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for their Estero Blitz program, a clean-up drive to de-clog the waterways of Metro Manila.”

Under its mandate, the Environmental Ombudsman Team headed by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, shall handle complaints filed against any public official, employee, office or agency mandated to protect the environment and conserve natural resources where the act complained of appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.

It will be recalled that in 10 February 2016, the Environmental Ombudsman received 50 complaints filed by the Ecowaste Coalition during which it was reported that “field investigations reveal that the officials committed violations of RA 9003 and its implementing rules and regulations.”

According to the complaint, mayors, vice-mayors and Sanggunian members who have “the mandate to establish policies” of their respective local governments, and control over the funds, “conspired in committing the violations of R.A. No. 9003 within their jurisdiction.”

Under R.A. No. 9003, “no open dump sites 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 wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act, every LGU shall convert its open dumps to controlled dumps.”

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