House to probe coal stockpile in Tondo
MANILA, Philippines – Two lawmakers are seeking an investigation on the negative effects on the community of the coal stockpile in Tondo, Manila.
Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas filed House Resolution (HR) Number 351, would which direct the House committee on the environment and natural resources to conduct an inquiry on the coal stockpile facility of Rock Energy International Corporation.
The company began its operations in an open two-hectare area across the Happyland residential community in Barangay 105, Tondo, Manila. The facility has a stocking capacity of 10,000 metric tons or about 200,000 sacks of coal.
Environmentalists and community members have since staged several protests, complaining about respiratory and skin diseases due to the toxic metals found in coal. (READ: Smelly, sticky, wet: Making it work in the dumps of Tondo)
"Matagal nang kahilingan ng mga residente ang pagpapasara ng stockpile at noong July 2015 pa lang ay ipinag-utos nang ipasara ito. Dahil hanggang ngayon ay nilalabag pa din ng Rock Energy ang kautusan, dapat na kumilos ang Kongreso para ipagtanggol ang karapatan ng mamamayan para sa malusog na pamumuhay at labanan ang polusyon," said de Jesus and Brosas.
(The residents have long been wishing for the closure of the stockpile and there were orders to close it since July 2015. Because Rock Energy continues to ignore these orders, Congress needs to move to protect the rights of residents to a healthy lifestyle and to fight pollution.)
In January 2016, the Manila City government ordered the shutdown of Rock Energy’s operations in Tondo because it failed to secure a request lifting an earlier suspension imposed on it the year before.
A month later, however, Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment claimed the company continued its operations and urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to shut down the firm.
According to de Jesus and Brosas, the House probe would determine the reasons why the country’s laws on toxic and hazardous substances that should be regulating firms like Rock Energy are not strictly being implemented.
These include Republic Act Number 6969 or the “Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990” and Presidential Decree 856, series 1975 or the “Code on Sanitation of the Philippines.”
"Congress needs to step in and probe this wanton violation of our people's rights to health. We in Gabriela support the Tondo residents in their demand for complete removal of pollutive firms. Our investigation of this problem must result in making the government comply with its own environmental laws and stop tolerating businesses that violate these laws," said De Jesus. – Rappler.com