SABLAN, Benguet – The Cordillera office Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) ordered a contractor to stop the operation of its batching plant in sitio Monglo, barangay Bayabas here for alleged violation of an earlier cease and desist order issued by the municipal government and pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9385 or the Philippine clean Water Act.
In a cease-and-desist order dated November 11, 2022, EMB-CAR regional technical director Ma. Victoria V. Abrera ordered the management of the Philippine Electric Supply Corporation, Inc., contractor of a P239 million road opening project along the said roadline, to stop the operation of its batching plant in sitio Monglo, barangay Bayabas because of the aforesaid violations.
Further, she ordered the contractor to conduct cleanup of the concrete spillages that flowed into the roadside affecting the nearby drainage and to submit the agency proof of compliance within 7 days from the issuance of the said order.
The EMB-CAR official reminded the contractor that persistent violation of Section 27(a) of RA 9275 will leave the agency no alternative but to elevate the case to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB).
Abrera claimed that the minimum penalty of P471,589.54 for every day of violation may be imposed against the contractor by the PAB after the issuance of the notice of violation and the conduct of the appropriate hearings for the said purpose.
Based on the inspection conducted by the EMB-CAR technical personnel on the site of the PHESCO batching plant, it was found out that the contractor was still in continuing defiance of the cease and desist order issued by the local government.
Moreover, the EMB-CAR team noted that during the inspection that the contractor has not provided adequate silt traps to arrest concrete spillages emanating from the operation of the said batching plant where the concrete spillages reportedly flow into the roadside affecting the nearby drainage.
According to her, the present situation in the area where the batching plant is situated constitutes violation of Section 27(a) of RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act.
The operation of the concrete batching plant in sitio Monglo, barangay Bayabas had been the subject of numerous complaints by concerned residents living in the area because of the air, water and noise pollution that it creates when operating on a 24-hour basis which has already affected the health of the people and the state of the environment in the area.
Earlier, the barangay council of Bayabas recommended the relocation and transfer of the controversial batching plant facility of the Philippine Electrical Services Corporation (PHESCO), Inc. installed at sitio Monglo to sitio Abuloy purposely for the health and safety of the affected residents and to ensure the protection of the environment.
Under Resolution No. 21, series of 2022, the council stated that during the second semester barangay assembly conducted last October 15, 2022 at the Bayabas Multi-Grade School grounds, the residents were informed that the lot owned by the Advinculas in sitio Abuloy was being eyed as a relocation site for the company’s batching plant which was offered by the lot owners through the initiative of the barangay officials.
Further, the residents who were present during the said gathering unanimously approved the said proposal, provided that, concerned government agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will inspect the proposed relocation site and make their respective recommendations.
The barangay officials claimed that the present location of PESCO’s batching plant was installed within a residential area at sitio Monglo had been the subject of strong opposition from the affected residents because of environmental and health reasons.
PHESCO is the contractor of a P239 million road opening project that is part of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) circumferential road project in barangay Bayabas.
According to the said resolution, it is the overwhelming clamor of the residents for the relocation of the batching plant to an ideal place which is away from the residential area but the company allegedly refused to heed the said clamor and continue to operate despite of the cease and desist order (CDO) that was issued by former Mayor Manuel Munar, Jr. .
The Bayabas barangay council led by Punong Barangay Teofilo M. Anacioco initiated a move by having a conference with the family of Ms. Remedios Advincula on October 13, 2022 concerning their lot at sitio Abuloy for the same to be utilized as a batching plant area where the latter expressed the family’s willingness that their lot be used to house the batching plant facility depending on the agreed reasonable terms and conditions that may be offered to them by the company.
Earlier, the Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) conducted an inspection on the present site of the batching plant and recommended that the facility be relocated outside the residential area to ensure the health and safety of the residents and the protection of the state of the environment in the community.
Barangay officials and residents criticized the company for its alleged defiance of the existing cease and desist order which had been detrimental to the health and safety of the people and the state of the environment.
Some residents claimed that the company is insisting to operate the batching plant in sitio Monglo because it is for its convenience as the concrete that is being batched by the facility is allegedly being used for the firm’s various projects not only in the municipality but also in other areas in Baguio and Benguet.