THE Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed the appeal of a group of residents in Obando, Bulacan, to stop the building of a sanitary landfill in the town.
The court declared as legal and environmentally safe the landfill, a project of Ecoshield Development Corporation (EDC) which is owned by business magnate and former Ambassador Antonio Cabangon-Chua and his son Edgard.
In an 11-page decision written by Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla and dated December 5, the court’s former 10th Division turned down the motion for reconsideration of the Concerned Citizens of Obando to reverse its August 29 decision upholding the landfill’s legality.
It said the issues raised by the petitioners “were already assessed, considered and adjudicated” and does not warrant the reversal of the court’s earlier ruling.
The petition for writ of kalikasan was originally filed with the Supreme Court by petitioners led by Maria Teresa S. Bondoc, but the Court refused to stop the project.
It referred the case to the appeals court.
The petitioners argued that the environmental safeguards EDC will put in place will not prevent the landfill from damaging the environment.
The court said it based its ruling on the testimony of EDC’s expert witnesses who made a comprehensive study of the project and who visited the landfill site.
“That these experts were under the employ of EDC does not necessarily warrant the presumption of bias on their parts as witnesses considering that their statements were duly supported by evidence,” the court said.
Padilla’s ruling was concurred in by Associate Justices Jose Reyes, Jr. and Agnes Reyes Carpio.
The court ruled that the project is much safer than other dumpsites, including the landfill in Navotas City.
On October 13, 2008, EDC requested the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region III (MGB-RIII) for a geological assessment of the site for the proposed landfill, a 44-hectare property in Barangay Salambao owned by the firm.
The firm also applied for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and the Initial Environmental Examination Report (IEER).
On December 22, 2010, the Sangguniang Barangay of Salambao approved EDC’s application to build and operate the landfill.
The petitioners challenged the propriety of the actions of the local officials and appealed to Bulacan Governor Wilhermino Sy-Alvarado to stop the project.
They also brought their complaint to the courts.
In denying the privilege of a Writ of Kalikasan, the Court of Appeals said the plea “does not involve an environmental damage of such magnitude [raised by the petitioners]to warrant the issuance of [such writ.]”
It said such a writ is granted “when there is such a significant degree of environmental damage as to prejudice the life, health, and property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.”