Gomez raises concern over environmental law violations in Leyte
MANILA, Philippines — Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez criticized the alleged blatant violations of land use and environmental management laws in the municipalities of Palompon and Albuera in Leyte’s fourth district, raising concerns about extensive pollution of the water, soil, and air in those areas.
During a recent hearing of the House committee on environment and natural resources, Gomez also condemned the apparent complicity of the local governments of Palompon and Albuera, as well as the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in the illegal activities of private businesses operating within their jurisdictions.
“I present before you a case of significant water, soil, air, and environmental pollution, accompanied by gross violations of our nation’s fundamental land use laws. These acts persist in my district, the fourth district of Leyte, specifically in the municipalities of Palompon and Albuera,” Gomez stated while discussing proposed House Resolution No. 778, which he authored.
He urged his colleagues to thoroughly investigate the violations, emphasizing that “it is our duty as legislators to address and resolve audacious and disrespectful acts against nature and the people who rely on its services to survive.”
“The degradation of our environment and the services it provides is equivalent to robbing our citizens of clean water, soil, air, protection from flooding, forest resources, and climate change mitigation,” he added.
Gomez also revealed ongoing violations committed by the DBSN chicken dressing plant in Albuera. The plant was established in 2015 and has a daily capacity of 55,000 chicken heads. Despite repeated appeals from surrounding communities, DBSN continues to operate without a cease and desist order from the DENR Region 8. He said the plant is responsible for swarms of flies, a pungent stench of chicken waste, and water pollution in the river leading to Ormoc Bay.
A recent assessment by the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Santo Tomas’ College of Science revealed that the plant’s waste had polluted the waters of Ormoc Bay. The plant’s solid wastes include dead chickens, chicken innards, and other parts and materials.
“The findings from the water quality, stream ecology, and microbial analysis indicate environmental degradation of the Albuera-Tinag-an stream system investigated in Tinag-an, Albuera, Leyte,” the study stated.
In addition to the violations, Gomez informed his colleagues about cases of illegal reclassification of forest lands and watershed areas, along with their buffer zones, through misleading maps in Palompon’s Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUP).
“Our existing legal, administrative, and executive systems allow violators to escape penalties… Violators behave in this manner simply because they can,” Gomez remarked.
“This represents a deliberately orchestrated effort to undermine and disregard environmental and land use laws, driven by personal greed… My fellow lawmakers, it is our responsibility to protect our nation. This means we cannot permit the degradation, disrespect, devastation, and damage of our natural resources, which deprives Filipinos of the most basic human needs: clean water, clean air, nutritious food, and decent shelter. Let us remember that our actions today not only affect present-day Filipinos but also future generations,” Gomez emphasized.
“Environmental destruction not only robs us of resources today but also deprives future generations, who cannot vote today, of their environmental heritage,” he concluded.