The Office of the Ombudsman is eyeing completion next month of closures of all 50 “illegal” dumps, which were the subject of a complaint earlier filed before the office.
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, who leads the office’s environmental team, told reporters on Monday that they have closed down 29 dumps in six regions.
“Fifty LGUs [ocal government units]were charged for violation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. We have been conducting public hearings over the last six months. So we go to the illegal [dumps]and we physically close [them]. So far we have closed down a total of 29 illegal [ones]in six regions across the country. So we have 21 to go, and we will complete all closures of all 50 [sites]by November of this year,” Mosquera said in an interview at the sidelines of an inter-agency workshop on high-profile environmental crimes.
According to the official, they have been to Region III, Region IV-A, Region V, Region VI and Region VII.
“Next week, we will be in Regions 11, 12 and 13 in Mindanao. We will have our public hearings in Davao so we will close a total of seven illegal [dumps]next week,” Mosquera said.
The Environmental Ombudsman Team investigates complaints filed against any public official, employee, office or agency mandated to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.
It can also recommend imposition of the appropriate penalties and/or filing of cases.
The office is conducting a fact-finding investigation of allegedly illegal dumps as part of a national campaign to ensure compliance with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which prohibits the use of open dumps for disposal of solid waste.
In February, the National Solid Waste Management Commission filed a complaint, which prompted the Environmental Ombudsman to give local officials 30 days to submit an explanation as well as a Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan. REINA TOLENTINO