Bulacan tire burning plant raidedBy Carmela Reyes-Estrope
Inquirer Central Luzon
GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—Tension gripped a densely populated community here on Friday when Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, accompanied by a team of police and environment officials, raided a tire recycling plant that had defied a government order to stop operations following complaints on health hazards.
The police, at the request of Alvarado, entered the compound of Bio-Eco Solution Technology Inc. in Barangay Tabang but were refused access by the plant caretaker, identified as John Ang, a Chinese, and its security personnel.
Bio-Eco Solution converts worn out tires into bunker oil in an enclosed facility. But it operates in a populated community. Its neighbors, among them the Technical Education Skills Development Authority building and the Yongden Technology facility, had complained about foul smell coming from the plant.
Acting on the complaints, Alvarado ordered the plant to cease operations on March 6. He also found that the plant had been operating without an environmental compliance certificate.
Martin Santos, village chair of Barangay Tabang, said the plant continued to emit smoke in spite of the governor’s directive.
Alvarado said he proceeded to the plant to enforce the order, but the plant’s security guards refused to open the doors for an hour. The governor was accompanied by Lormelyn Claudio, Central Luzon director of the Environmental Management Bureau.
Heeding Alvarado’s instructions, a police team, led by Supt. Fitz Macariola, head of the Bulacan provincial public safety office, used a ladder to enter the compound and opened the gate for the officials.
Ang said he did not mean to stop Alvarado and the police but had wanted to secure his company lawyers’ counsel before allowing the officials into the plant.
Lawyer Rustico de Belen, Bulacan provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the provincial government planned to file contempt charges against Ang and the firm for defying the order.
Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando said his house is a kilometer away from the Bio-Eco Solution compound so he is aware of the villagers’ complaint.
He said the matter of declaring the firm persona non grata (unwelcome) in Bulacan would be discussed in the next week’s session of the provincial board, which he chairs.
Before issuing the March 6 order, the government conducted several technical meetings with Ang to discuss remedies, Claudio said.
According to De Belen, Bio-Eco Solution had violated Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1586 (which imposes the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System), the Clean Air Act of 1999, the Clean Water Act of 2004 and other laws for its failure to get environmental clearances.