No violations in ECC for Balili, Capitol insists
A Capitol official said there were no violations in the landfill project being developed for a coal ash waste facility in the Balili property in Naga City.
In a press conference, Capitol consultant Jose Ma. Gastardo expressed disappointment that the Notice of Violation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was reported in the media before the Capitol received its copy.
At least four violations of the Environmental Compliance Certificate were cited in the notice.
“We have not received any notice from the DENR regarding the alleged violations committed by the Capitol. I don’t know if the media are DENR’s messengers. Something must be wrong with communications lines with the province,” Gastardo said.
A technical conference is scheduled on July 12 for the DENR and Capitol planning officials to discuss the DENR’s observations.
Based on its Notice of Violation, the DENR-7 said the Capitol failed to secure a permit to cut coconut trees and submit a memorandum of agreement setting up a P5-million environmental guarantee fund (EGF) as required in the ECC.
The Province of Cebu was also cited for not submitting a semi-annual report on the landfill project’s compliance with ECC conditions.
The DENR also noted that sand an gravel were supposed to be used in lining the pit, but inspectors found only limestone and polyethylene sheets.
In response, Gastardo said 13 coconut trees were cut down in the access road leading to the Balili properties and were not covered by the ECC.
He said the Capitol already appropriated P5 million for the EGF.
Gastardo said sand and gravel had been laid down in the area intended for the ash pond and covered with high-density polyethylene to protect them from rain water.
He said the DENR-7 may be referring to other areas not covered with sand and gravel.
Gastardo said it would be “impractical” to cover the entire area with sand and gravel when some areas wouldn’t be used for coal ash dumping in the future.
He said the Capitol is willing to meet with DENR-7 officials on July 12 to discuss the findings. In 2009, the Capitol purchased 24.7-hectares of beach front property in Naga City worth P98.9 million.
The deal is under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas since most of the area is classified as timberland and “submerged underwater.”
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the province will continue with its plan to develop the Balili estate into an international port and a coal ash storage area as part of its agreement with the Korean Electric Power Company -SPC.
She insisted the purchase was l aboveboard, and that fishponds and wetlands could be reclaimed and titled in the name of the Province of Cebu. Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol