Gomez seeks update on DENR actions to address pollution in Leyte
MANILA, Philippines — Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez is demanding an update from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regarding immediate actions taken to address the extensive pollution of water, soil, and air resources in Palompon, Leyte.
The pollution is caused by the discharge of solid chicken wastes into the waters of the Albuera-Tinag-an stream system, which drains into the Ormoc Bay.
Gomez previously urged the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to recommend filing criminal and administrative charges against Palompon Mayor Ramon Oñate and his wife, Lourdes, for gross violations of the country’s land and environmental laws.
Furthermore, he has proposed that the House committee produce a report and conclusion stating that the local government, along with complicit employees of the DENR regional office, should be charged for violations of the Forestry Act and environmental management laws related to environmental pollution.
Gomez emphasized, “What immediate actions has the DENR taken to prevent further destruction of the environment in Palompon? I have brought attention to the offenses committed by the Oñate couple and the DBSN Farms Agriventures Corporation. The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has initiated an inquiry into the illegal activities of the company. I hope the DENR has taken measures to address the concerns I have raised.”
“The DENR leadership should not ignore the environmental crimes occurring in Palompon and Albuera. Swift action is necessary to halt the degradation of the municipalities’ water, soil, and air resources,” emphasized the lawmaker from the fourth district of Leyte.
Gomez submitted House Resolution No. 778 to the House panel, detailing how DBSN Farms Agriventures Corporation has been polluting the water, soil, and air resources in the two municipalities where it operates. The DBSN operates a 55,000-capacity chicken dressing plant in Albuera and a breeder farm in Palompon with an 88,000-chicken capacity.
Supporting data cited by Gomez includes a recent assessment study conducted by the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Santo Tomas’ College of Science. The study revealed that solid wastes from the DBSN dressing plant had contaminated the waters of Ormoc Bay. The plant’s solid wastes consist of dead chickens, chicken intestines, and other parts and materials.
Gomez also stated that collected solid wastes from the Albuera plant were transported to Palompon and dumped on Lot 5150 in Barangay San Joaquin, which is located within the perimeter of the Palompon Watershed and Forest Reserve established under Proclamation 212 issued by the late President Corazon Aquino in 1988.
In line with the House committee’s investigation, Gomez recommended that the panel file a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman for flagrant violations of land use and environmental management laws in Palompon and Albuera.
In addition to pressing charges, he urged the DENR to cancel the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) immediately issued to DBSN due to the revealed pollution. Gomez also suggested that the DENR “excavate the dumpsite” where the solid wastes have been deposited and initiate cleanup operations.
The former mayor of Ormoc City further called on DENR Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga to transfer all heads of different DENR offices in Region 8 to other regions. He pointed out that excessive familiarity between DENR employees and local governments has resulted in complicity with illegal activities.