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EMB questions Capitol move to backfill Balili property

The Capitol failed to comply with the conditions of its Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) for its secured landfill project in its 24.7 hectare Balili property in barangay Tina-an, Naga City.

This was stated in a memorandum sent by the Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas (EMB-7) to the Provincial Planning and Development Office yesterday.

In his memorandum, EMB-7 Regional Director Fernando Quililan said a report submitted by their case handler showed that the Capitol “conducted development that’s not in accordance with the initial environmental examination report and site development plan” that it submitted to his office.

The Capitol gradually backfilled the Balili property with limestone and soil despite a pending graft case filed last July by the Ombudsman against suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and seven others before the Sandiganbayan.

Quililan cited section 9 of Presidential Decree 1586 which stated that violators of the ECC will be penalized with suspension or revocation of its certificate “and a fine of not less than P50,000 for every violation thereof, at the discretion of the EMB.”

Quililan directed Engr. Adolfo Quiroga, Provincial Planning and Development Office chief and Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale to submit a written explanation on the issue in a technical conference scheduled on Jan. 29.

Last month, the Provincial Board (PB) filed a motion to ask for a copy of the contract from the office of Governor Garcia.

Quiroga earlier said a P27 million contract was approved for the earth-moving work on the Balili property.

PB Member Arleigh Sitoy said the board is unaware on whether the backfilling was “reclamation or restoration” of the property which was classified as public domain by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) since most of it is submerged underwater.

Both Sitoy and Magpale, who visited the Balili property last November, questioned the backfiling saying that it may cover evidence that the land is submerged in water.

In subsequent press conferences in her office prior to her suspension, Garcia insisted that the backfilling was above board.

She also accused Magpale and Sitoy of “trespassing” since they didn’t ask permission from her office to visit the site.

The governor also gave a Power Point presentation of the development plans for the coastal land which the Capitol bought from the Balili family for P98.9 million five years ago.

The governor’s brother, Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district said the backfilling was “restoration work” done as part of the site development of the Balili property and won’t affect the cases filed against his sister. Deputy Editor Stephen Capillas

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Tags: Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) , Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas (EMB-7)

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