Gomez wants criminal, admin raps vs violators of environmental laws in Leyte
MANILA, Philippines — Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez called on the House committee on natural resources to recommend the filing of criminal and administrative charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against officials of the Palompon local government for alleged gross violations of the country’s land and environmental laws.
Gomez urged the committee’s leadership to generate a comprehensive report and conclusion, asserting that officials of Palompon municipality in Leyte and employees of the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should face charges. He cited violations of the Forestry Act and environmental management laws, specifically for the extensive pollution of water, soil, and air resources.
“I recommend that with these offenses, the Committee would come up with a report and a conclusion that we will file this to the Ombudsman,” said Gomez. He is the author of House Resolution No. 778, which initiated the House inquiry into the blatant violations of land use and environmental management laws in Palompon and Albuera, situated in the fourth district of Leyte.
The lawmaker specifically requested that the House panel should investigate the activities of DBSN Farms Agriventures Corporation, which reportedly caused pollution in the water, soil, and air resources of Palompon and Albuera, where the company operates.
DBSN operates a 55,000-capacity chicken dressing plant in Albuera and a breeder farm in Palompon, with a total capacity of 88,000 chicken heads.
A recent assessment study by the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Santo Tomas’ College of Science examined the water quality, stream ecology, and microbial analysis of the Albuera-Tinag-an stream system. The study revealed that solid wastes from the DBSN dressing plant had polluted the waters of Ormoc Bay. The plant’s solid wastes include dead chickens, chicken intestines, and other materials.
Solid wastes collected from the Albuera plant were transported to Palompon and dumped on Lot 5150 in Barangay San Joaquin. This location falls within the perimeter of the Palompon Watershed and Forest Reserve, established under Proclamation 212 by the late President Corazon Aquino in 1988.
In addition to recommending charges, Gomez called for the immediate cancellation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued to DBSN due to the alleged pollution.
He urged the DENR secretary to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that all penalties are imposed on DBSN Farm. Gomez further emphasized the need to cancel the ECCs of DBSN Farm in San Joaquin, the dressing plant in Albuera, and Barangay Tinag-an, Antipolo.
Expressing his outrage, Gomez also suggested that the DENR should “excavate the dumpsite” where the solid wastes were deposited. He firmly stated, “This is totally unacceptable that this is happening. We cannot and should not tolerate the destruction of our environmental resources.”
Furthermore, as a proactive measure, the former mayor of Ormoc City urged DENR Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga to relocate the heads of the different offices of DENR Region 8 to other regions. Gomez claimed they are closely acquainted with the local area and aware of the activities. He recommended their transfer to ensure an impartial resolution.