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Ombudsman orders Visayas officials to explain illegal dumpsites

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Ombudsman orders Visayas officials to explain illegal dumpsites
13 September 2016

Investigators from the Environmental Ombudsman Program are conducting an in-depth fact-finding investigation into illegal dumpsites maintained in the provinces of Iloilo and Aklan. Several local officials from the towns of Banate Ajuy, Sara, Sta. Barbara and Concepcion in Iloilo, and Nabas in Aklan were directed to attend a series of clarificatory hearings conducted last 07 to 09 September 2016 in Iloilo City.

The fact-finding investigation is being conducted as part of a national campaign to ensure compliance with Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000).  It will be recalled that last May 2016, the Ombudsman Environmental team successfully caused the closure of three open dumpsites in the municipalities of Hindang and Bato in Leyte, and the municipality of Catarman in the Northern Samar.

Upon receipt of the complaint filed by the National Solid Waste Management Commission in 10 February 2016, the Environmental Ombudsman gave local officials a non-extendible period of 30 days within which to submit their explanation and a Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan (SCRP) which must include a proposal to immediately close the open dumpsite.   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.

The Environmental Ombudsman Team will monitor post-closure activities of the LGUs concerned and ensure that the provisions of Republic Act No. 9003 and other environmental laws are fully implemented.

Under its mandate, the Environmental Ombudsman Team headed by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera shall investigate complaints filed against any environmental protection official and employee, and recommend the imposition of appropriate penalties and/or the filing of criminal indictments.

The next hearing is scheduled on September 16, 2016 in Cebu City.

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