Issue of June 18, 2017

Plus Juan
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Env’tal case filed over Lamtang waste station
by Ofelia C. Empian

Residents of Sitio Lamtang, Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet filed an environmental case against a private garbage hauler, the local government units of Baguio and La Trinidad, Environmental Management Bureau-Cordillera, to complain about the continuos use of a garbage transfer station in their area.

Nestor Lucas, along with 12 other residents filed the environmental case on June 13 at the Benguet Regional Trial Court Branch 10. Named respondents in the case are M.A. Camilo Freight Services represented by its operator Mark Anthony Camilo, spouses Martha and Samuel Alberto, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda, and EMB-CAR OIC Director Reynaldo Digamo.

The Alberto’s are the owners of the lot where M.A. Camilo Freight Services collects the wastes “transferred” by garbage trucks from the barangays and commercial areas in Benguet and La Trinidad.

M.A. Camilo is the hauler of Baguio and La Trinidad’s wastes to a sanitary landfill in Capas, Tarlac.

In January this year, La Trinidad stopped hauling its garbage to Capas, year upon opening of Cell No. 3 of its landfill in Barangay Alno. 

The residents are asking for issuance of injunction with prayer for the issuance of 20 days temporary environmental protection order and or writ of preliminary mandatory or prohibitory injunction and writ of continuing mandamus and damages.

Earlier, there were petitions made by the residents to the LGU of La Trinidad, appealing for the stoppage of the operation of said transfer station, which started on July 2013 to accommodate Baguio’s garbage, due to its stench that affects residential areas surrounding the transfer station.

Acting on the said petition, then Mayor Edna Tabanda issued a cease and desist order on July 12, 2013 on the transfer station.

However, the residents said the hauling and transfer of garbage continued and the municipality of La Trinidad also contracted M.A. Camilo to haul out its garbage on June 2014 to January 2017. 

Former senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. also wrote a letter to former DENR secretary Ramon Paje on July 22, 2015 informing him of the said staging area, just across their farm in Sablan, Benguet.

“This open dump has caused a horrible stench and an abundance of flies in our houses and the neighboring houses in Sablan. Moreover, the open dump may have affected the toxicity level of the water in the creek flowing across the area,” Marcos’ letter read.

He also inquired on the status of the landfill to the EMB central office.

Acting on the inquiry, EMB-CAR conducted a monitoring on the area on February 2016 where they recommended for both LGUs of Baguio and La Trinidad to impose strict segregation of wastes being collected.

Also, on Nov. 2016, EMB-CAR led the water sampling monitoring in the creek near the transfer station where they said the water sample taken from the creek “are within the parameters based on the Water Quality Guidelines and General Effluent Standards of 2016.”

The first-ever environmental case in Benguet RTC will have its initial hearing on June 20.

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