Spooked by some people’s ESL; A peek at DA’s anti–MJ drive
For months on end now, Itogon officials appeared to have been spooked by some people’s plan to set up an engineered sanitary landfill in Ampucao.* * * * * * * * * *
The use of “some people’s plan” here is deliberate because Itogon municipal officials insist that it never was their plan. In fact, and as part of a 10-year ecological solid waste program both Mayor Oscar Camantiles and the municipal council headed by Vice mayor Noel Ngolob agreed that should resources allow, the plan was to set up an ESL in Barangay Loakan’s Luneta area.
But the supposed Ampucao ESL kept popping up like the ubiquitous money lender from Bombay, the latest in last week’s session of the city council when one city official adverted to it like it is part of the city.
Last month, a public consultation on the ESL in Ampucao itself shaped up as an eye-opener for concerned stakeholders.
An emphatic Rep. Ronald Cosalan said there was no way the ESL can proceed if the proponent fails to comply with the requirements of the Local Government Code and Indigenous People’s Rights Act that included a memorandum of agreement, endorsement of the barangay and municipal councils, the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate, and the conduct of a free prior and informed consent.
DENR Regional Director Clarence Baguilat added the proponent must comply also with the requirements of the Ecological Solid Waste Act and the National Integrated Protected Area Systems Law.
“Is there really a South Korean investor willing to fork out $43 million for the putting up of an ESL in Ampucao?” I asked Mayor Camantiles weeks back.
“I have not seen the face of him or them,” he replied. “I think there was no investor and I think they were merely drumming up the idea of a probable ESL site in Ampucao so they could dangle it to an investor probably in South Korea.”
He added that up now, local proponents have yet to apprise Itogon officials on the financial and technical capabilities of the investor, assuming there is indeed one.
Just how serious is the Department of Agriculture in eradicating marijuana cultivation in the region?
The question I think should be directed to the DA’s much-traveled (my sources told me she just had been to Australia, India, and Japan and may next go to Peru) regional director who must have picked up pointers in her travels abroad on how to deal with the cannabis threat.
One of my sources said the private sector’s enthusiasm in participating in the DA’s baseline validation study on how the initial P12M tranche allocated to MJ-affected areas was used was dampened somehow when the DA’s BAC insisted on bidding the project even if the amount involved was way below P300,000.
The validation study, I was told, was to determine how the intended beneficiaries were able to make use of the allocation intended for their communities.
Despite this, at least one or two parties were interested but backed out when the BAC insisted on bidding.
I called up the BAC head to react on the information. Instead, and without even clarifying further what I wanted to know, she referred me to Regional Information Officer Robert Domoguen who was out of town.
Domoguen, one of this region’s better journalists who could shift from news, features, to opinion writing, later sent me a message to deny that he was a spokesperson for a “topsy turvy” operation.
“They pass the buck to me when things go wrong but had me sideline if things are okay,” he complained.
Will the DA regional director be kind enough to inform this region through the media on how her office is waging the war against cannabis propagation?