Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, has been charged at the “Green Ombudsman” with violating environmental laws for illegally cutting and destroying mangroves in her town without permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In a complaint-affidavit filed at the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman, barangay officials of Campoyong, Guiaun, accused Gonzales-Kwan and contractor Cosme Tiu Sonco, owner of Al’s Enterprise and Construction, of conspiring to cut and destroy mangrove forests in their barangay in July last year for the construction of a joint National Housing Authority-LGU (local government unit) resettlement project.
The complainants are village councilors Norma Y. Loyola, Roger B. Lagramada, Dominadora L. Odeña, Nicolas C. Dagsa, Eleanor G. Lo and Paz O. Dimaangay.
They said Gonzales-Kwan “should be held administratively liable for grave misconduct for failing to act on and choosing to ignore their pleas to protect their constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
The complainants said Gonzales-Kwan allegedly gave unwarranted preference to Tiu Sonco’s Al’s Construction by allowing him to cut and destroy the mangroves even as the National Housing Authority had not yet issued a notice of award and notice to proceed with the project.
They also said that the illegal cutting of mangroves was done despite the issuance of a cease and desist order by the DENR and village council resolutions requesting Gonzales-Kwan to heed the cease and desist order.