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PIA Press Release

Dagupan eyes court injunction vs land reclamation

By Danny O Sagun

Dagupan City (29 July) -- "Nagtataka rin kami, parang nanunutil ang may-ari pag nagba-violate sya."

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Leduina "Wendy" Co thus admitted during a media forum Thursday when told of the continued backfilling of a portion of the Calmay river along the new De Venecia Expressway Extension in spite of the cease and desist order issued against 888 Dagupan Properties, Inc. by the Environmental Management Bureau, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The EMB issued the order on January 15 last year after the former found out that the corporation had already engaged in reclamation activities. EMB Regional director Joel Salvador told the sangguniang panlungsod in a recent session that the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued to the firm authorized only backfilling of its property for land development and not reclamation, which activity can only be undertaken by government.

The firm, represented by one William Chua of Mangaldan town, had stopped reclamation activities when the order was served but resumed operations early this year. Again it stopped after former City Legal Officer George Mejia conducted an ocular inspection at the site. But backfilling resumed on June 29, or a day before the new city administration took over.

Mayor Benjamin S. Lim has said that even if Chua was known to him personally, he would not hesitate to crack the whip on him for violating an ordinance prohibiting the filling up of fishponds in the area.

Alarmed by the continued defiance of the order, the city council asked the EMB to shed light on the matter. Salvador said the order was still valid and in effect.

Co said the other recourse of the city is to get a temporary injunction from the courts to compel the property owner, who seemed bent on disregarding the EMB order, to stop operations. "Malaking question nga on my part," she said during the forum at the Philippine Information Agency Dagupan Infocenter, referring to the continued defiance by the owner.

She clarified that the DENR provincial office had no hand in the issuance of the ECC and in the serving of the CDO. "That we explained to Mayor Lim," she said.

The continued defiance by the owner only showed that the EMB was "powerless" to enforce the country?s environmental laws, observers said. "Kulang ng ngipin," Co herself noted.

Meanwhile, she urged local government units to adopt the garbage disposal system of Sual town which has attained "zero waste" with its successful implementation of R.A. 9003 thru the setting up of a materials recovery facility (MRF).

She said she saw for herself the Sual system during a recent visit and was impressed by the efficient operation. She also said that LGUs can talk together, pool their resources and possibly establish a common sanitary landfill facility or any other disposal system approved by the DENR.

Urdaneta City is expected to operate soon its sanitary landfill by October.

This city meanwhile adopted the "no segregation, no collection" policy to arrest its worsening garbage problem. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]

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