Concrete plant defies Lipa mayor's closure order
BATANGAS, Philippines – Residents of Barangay Calamias in Lipa City are calling on higher authorities to look into the continued operations of a batching or concrete plant despite an earlier closure order issued by the city government of Lipa.
In a document obtained by Rappler, members of the Sangguniang Barangay of Calamias issued an ordinance last September, urging the city government to shut down the plant upon the request of residents.
Among the concerns raised were:
- The batching plant is located in a residential area.
- Its operation causes air and noise pollution, which pose a health hazard to nearby residents.
- The heavy trucks that deliver material in and out of the facility cause further noise pollution and unwanted disruptions at night.
Ordinance No. 09-36, dated September 11, 2018, was signed by 7 barangay kagawads (councilors), the Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson, and Barangay Calamias Chairman Ronilo Peralta.
Further inquiry revealed that Lipa City Mayor Meynard Sabili issued a closure order on August 24. Addressed to Ronald Rivera, owner of RY Saligvera Builders Construction and Supply Company, the violation noted in the order was “operating without mayor’s permit.”
“Pending investigation and/or filing of administrative / criminal charge/s against you for violation/s above-cited, subject establishment is hereby ordered CLOSED effective upon receipt hereof. Consequently, you are hereby directed to cease and desist from further operating the business to which the subject establishment is engaged,” the mayor's order read.
In an inspection report prepared by the City Permits and Licensing Office (CPLO) dated August 29, it was discovered that RY Saligvera was found to have been operating despite the closure order. The closure order signage posted was taken off the establishment’s entrance gate, along with the chain and padlock earlier placed by city authorities.
“According to the plant manager, Engr John Calingasan, he was informed by the plant’s personnel that last August 28, a group of 4 men who identified themselves as employees from Lipa City Government arrived to the business area and informed them that such closure order was lifted and that they are going to remove the signage together with its chain and padlock. He also informed us that the reported government employees who detached the closure signage have not explained to the personnel of the batching plan the reasons behind the lifting of the said closure order,” the report said.
In reply, the CPLO inspectors informed the plant manager that the said closure order had not been lifted and only they had the authority to lift it.
In another letter dated September 13, 2018, CPLO Officer Divina Simangan informed barangay chairman Peralta that they had enforced two closure orders on the subject establishment and it was the first time they had encountered such disregard for the Cease and Desist order issued by the mayor.
Simangan added that the latest instruction by Mayor Sabili was for the City Legal Office to prepare the necessary documents for the filing of appropriate charges against the owner of the subject establishment.
But according to Calingasan, barangay captain Peralta granted them a temporary permit.
“On process 'yung permit namin sa city hall habang hinihintay 'yung reclassification ng land from agricultural to industrial, pero may kasulatan galing sa barangay chairman na pinahihintulutan kami mag-operate. Alam din ng city hall. Lahat naman kasi ng complaint ng residents nasolusyunan namin,” he said.
(Our permit is being processed at city hall while we're waiting for the reclassification of our land from agricultural to industrial, but we have a document from the barangay chairmen that shows we are allowed to operate. And city hall knows that too, since we were able to address all the complaints of the residents.)
The “temporary permit” Calingasan was referring to is an unnumbered barangay resolution dated October 3, authorizing barangay chairman Peralta to enter into a compromise agreement in favor of RY Saligvera Builders.
The compromise agreement signed by Peralta states that both parties have agreed to settle the case amicably and the complaint pending before the office of the city mayor would be withdrawn. In exchange, RY Saligvera Builders undertakes to to the following:
- Erect electrical posts and early warning devices to ensure safety of constituents passing by the road
- Operate only between 6 am and 9 pm
- Employ personnel from the barangay
Andre Cumagun, a barangay resident whose family has lived in the area for several generations, is appalled by this development.
“Wala silang karapatan na magbigay ng temporary permit. It is the city that regulates, not the barangay. Halos lahat [ng authorities] pinagsumbungan na namin, pero tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang operation. Ang mahirap kasi dito sa atin, walang clear rules and regulations when it comes to batching plants. Alangan naman na kami ang umalis eh kami ang nauna dito,” Cumagun lamented.
(The barangay doesn't have the right to issue a temporary permit. It is the city that regulates, not the barangay. We've gone to almost all the authorities to complain, but the plant's operations continue. This is the problem here, there are no clear rules and regulations when it comes to batching plants. They can't expect us to leave, we were here first.)
Residents are calling on their mayor to make good on his promise to file appropriate charges against owners of the plant. – Rappler.com