ALBAY, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman suspended Polangui Mayor Cherilie Mella-Sampal and 4 members of the Sangguniang Bayan for one year for failing to close down the town’s open dumpsite.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) regional office served suspension order on Monday, July 16.
They were charged for violating provisions of RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 for operating an dumpsite instead of a sanitary landfill.
Sampal said the case was “moot and academic because in 2016 we closed down the open dumpsite in Barangay Balogo and it has been rehabilitated.” She added they would file for a temporary restraining order with the Court of Appeals.
Vice Mayor Herbert Borja took over as mayor, while topnotcher councilor Noli Sombrero is now the acting vice mayor.
Borja said the suspension of Mayor Sampal came after the local government closed down the old open dumpsite but reopened another open dumpsite in the municipality. “This still violated RA 9003,” said Borja.
Borja was not included in the suspension case as he was a former provincial board member of Albay and was elected vice mayor only in 2016, or prior to filing of the case.
Borja said that he was told by DILG regional director Eloisa Pastor that there was no need to appoint new and additional members of the Sangguniang Bayan to replace the four members. The pronvincial board could still function even without the suspended members.
Five other local government units in Albay are facing the same legal bind as Polangui. These are Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, Tiwi and Tabaco City.
Two years ago, an Environmental Ombudsman Team headed by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera warned the 6 Albay LGUs about their violations of the Solid Waste Management Act.
The law prohibits the operation of open dumpsites. R.A. 9003 states: “no dump sites shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs (local government units), which constitutes the use of open dumps for solid wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act, every LGU shall convert its open dumps to controlled dumps.”
In Albay, only Legazpi City has a sanitary landfill which was built and funded by the Spanish government. – Rappler.com
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