Ombudsman probes local execs over ‘illegal’ dumps

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THE Office of the Ombudsman will look into alleged violations committed by some 600 local officials in connection with a law barring the use of open dumps.

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This stemmed from the initial 50 complaints filed by Romeo Hidalgo of Ecowaste Coalition before the Ombudsman against mayors, vice mayors and council members for alleged violation of Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

RA 9003 prohibits the use of open dumps for the disposal of solid waste.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ombudsman quoted the complainant as saying that the respondents had “the mandate to establish policies and have control over the funds of the city” but allegedly committed the offense within their jurisdiction in conspiracy with one another.

The names of the respondents were not immediately known.

In 2013, the Environmental Ombudsman program collaborated with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and launched a three-year nationwide campaign to increase awareness of and voluntary compliance with RA 9003.

“Under this program, the local government units were directed to conduct their respective self-assessment as to their compliance status and to voluntarily implement corrective actions. Two years after implementation, tracer results show that R.A. No. 9003 remains to be the least prioritized local government program,” the Ombudsman said.

It added that the DENR-EMB has submitted to the Ombudsman a list of 350 local government units (LGUs) “with recurring and blatant violations” in connection with open dumps.

Phase 2 of the project aims to improve the LGUs’ compliance with RA 9003 through submission of their respective Priority Corrective Action Plan (PCAP) covering a six-month period and/or their submission of a 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan.

The Environmental Ombudsman, led by the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, is mandated to handle complaints filed against any public official, employee, office or agency mandated to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.

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