Mt. Province: Local officials of Bontoc town have allegedly ignored an order issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) to shut down and rehabilitate its illegal dumpsite which has been polluting the Chico River.
A team from the Kalinga Anti-pollution Action Group (KAPAG), which lodged the complaint against Bontoc officials last year, claimed that the local government of the province’s capital town has not been following the CA’s order to close and rehabilitate its dump site six months after the Court’s issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan order on February 22.
On August 17, five days before the expiration of the timeframe, Bontoc was still dumping garbage into the Caluttit opendump site, said petitioner Estanislao Albano Jr. of Tabuk City Kalinga province.
Albano with a team from Kalinga reportedly caught a Bontoc local government-owned garbage truck in the act of dumping unsegregated garbage into the dump site around 9:45 a.m. on the said day. Minutes later, they saw another garbage truck loaded with sacks of garbage leaving the town center.
The dumping of garbage was done despite the presence of a signage at the dump site declaring the facility as permanently closed and undergoing rehabilitation pursuant to the CA decision. The signage also warns that a heavy equipment is operating in the dump site.
But Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey said that they are closing the dumpsite on August 22, the CA order’s exact deadline. Rehabilitation work was ongoing in the area, he assured.
The CA ruled that within six months from February 22 when it issued the Writ of Kalikasan, Bontoc should have established a temporary residual containment area (TRCA) away from the Chico River where the residual waste of the town will be stored pending the development of the interim residual containment area (IRCA) in the lot bought by Bontoc for the construction of a sanitary landfill (SLF).
Bontoc earlier assured the petitioners that it has a lot for an SLF but according to Albano, they would later learn that the town has yet to acquired a lot for the said purpose.
Part of the rehabilitation process under the writ is the reconstruction of the retaining wall cordoning off the base of the ODS but the monitoring team reportedly saw no signs of compliance by Bontoc. The old retaining wall was washed away during a typhoon a couple of years ago.
Under the ruling, one of the first activities the Bontoc LGU should have done was to have the residents of the town to practice segregation at source (SAS), something that they have not done at all.
Odsey, meanwhile, claimed that they have “already a lot for their sanitary landfill and segregation at source is being done in full blast.”
On October 3, 2012, the Kalinga-based KAPAG group charged Bontoc and officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for allowing the dumping of garbage along the Chico River in violation of the constitutional right of people living downstream for balanced and healthful ecology.