Ombudsman orders dismissal of Nasugbu mayor over dumpsite
BATANGAS CITY, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from the service of Nasugbu Mayor Antonio Jose A. Barcelon for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty in connection with the municipal dumpsite.
The Ombudsman's decision was signed by Environmental Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera and then-ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on July 4, 2018.
The Ombudsman directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to implement the order. But as of Thursday, September 13, DILG-Batangas had yet to receive a copy of the official document, according to Local Government and Operations Officer Joseph Soriano.
The Environmental Ombudsman Program represented by lawyer Christian Tarce filed the complaint on September 7, 2017. It was in relation to the use of a dumpsite which violated environmental laws.
The complainant alleged that Barcelon should be held administratively liable for entering into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with RS Pamintuan Construction Supply in 2009, on behalf of the municipal government, without the authority of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) or city council.
Under the MOA, the contractor was tasked to mobilize the equipment and personnel needed for the clearing and excavation of the municipal dumpsite.
The Ombudsman said the complainant also alleged that "the MOA was for quarrying operations and there was no attempt to close and rehabilitate the open dumpsite until July 2013 and the quarrying operations were illegal for lack of quarry permits."
In his counter-affidavit, Barcelon argued that the MOA was not for quarry activities but merely for clearing big rocks and boulders and that the SB later approved his acts.
In July 2013, upon the assumption of the then-mayor Rosario Apacible, the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office inspected the dumpsite and found several violations of environmental laws. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional office confirmed then that there was an existing and operational dumpsite, and that there was no sign of rehabilitation.
In a 16-page decision, the Ombudsman ruled, “After a careful evaluation of the facts and evidence, this Office finds substantial evidence against Mayor Barcelon for Grave Misconduct and Gross Neglect of Duty."
"His act of entering into an agreement with a private entity to allow the latter to engage in quarry operations at the municipal dumpsite without any authority from the SB constitutes the offense," the decision added.
The Ombudsman said Barcelon committed gross neglect of duty as local chief executive when he failed to close the dumpsite, in violation of Section 37 of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,
The Ombudsman noted that Barcelona served as Nasugbu mayor from 2004 to 2013, and was again elected for the post in 2016.
"In his 11 years as local chief executive, he failed to facilitate the closure of the open dumpsite.... Despite repeated demands by the appropriate agencies and his commitments to rehabilitate the area, the operation of the open dumpsite continued,” the Ombudsman said.
In February 2016, the Ombudsman announced it would investigate nearly 600 local government officials in 13 regions in the country for allegedly allowing open dump sites in their areas, in violation of the law.
Meanwhile, Soriano confirmed that two other local chief executives in the province of Batangas were under suspension.
On August 9, the DILG served the suspension order of Laurel town Mayor Randy James Amo and appointed Vice Mayor Felimon Austria as his replacement.
In the town of Balayan, Vice Mayor Joel Arada assumed as acting mayor after Emmanuel Salvador Fronda was served a suspension order on August 31. – Rappler.com