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No cleanup plan yet for Baguio’s water source

/ 12:09 AM June 23, 2014

BAGUIO CITY—Government regulators have not yet outlined a cleanup plan for a Baguio water source in Mt. Santo Tomas watershed, which was contaminated by a forest road project when excavated soil eroded and polluted a major creek there.

Baguio Water District (BWD) saved one of three natural springs at the Mt. Cabuyao section of the watershed, which it taps to supply water to 20 communities in Baguio City and Benguet province, but it has no resources to clean up Amliang Creek and BWD’s Amliang Dam 3, Salvador Royeca, BWD general manager, said on Thursday.

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Who is responsible

 

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He said only the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) may direct the people behind the road project to undertake a cleanup.

But determining who was responsible for the contamination has yet to be done, said Oscar Cabanayan, Cordillera director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

On June 6, the DENR accused Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. and three Baguio contractors of destroying or damaging more than 700 trees and saplings when they built a road leading to the Mt. Cabuyao section of the watershed in  Tuba town in Benguet.

On June 17,  Aliping asked the EMB to suspend a technical investigation of the road project, which was being developed without an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) or excavation and tree-cutting permits.

“I respectfully request the resetting of [the technical conference required by the EMB as it looks into the alleged ECC irregularity] until such time that the case [in the Benguet prosecutor’s office] has been resolved,” Aliping said.

He said the information that he would be required to share with the EMB may impact on his defense.

Cabanayan said the conference would have established the facts about the case and would have helped outline a cleanup and mitigation plan for the affected watershed.

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But the EMB canceled the meeting with Aliping that was scheduled on June 19 after the lawmaker asked for more time to prepare his defense.

Implicated

 

Aliping was implicated in the 2-kilometer road project when he allegedly applied for excavation permits, according to a DENR complaint and fact-finding reports of several agencies.

On June 16, Cabanayan could not give a categorical answer as to which party may be directed to remove the soil that had polluted  Amliang Creek and three natural springs. “Maybe the local governments,” he said.

Royeca said BWD work crews were deployed to remove soil debris from the spring on Mt. Cabuyao. But he said BWD may have lost the two other springs there. Reports from Vincent Cabreza and Jhoanna Marie Buenaobra, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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