The newly-established Environmental Ombudsman is “dead serious” in filing complaints against local officials who are still allowing open dumpsites in their localities.
Just recently, a composite inspection team from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) conducted clandestine inspections of 12 local government units that are identified as non-compliant and with recurring blatant violations by its continued operation of open dumpsites.
The inspection composite team, led by a commissioner of the NSWMC, is being tasked to identify and submit a list of violating LGUs to the Environmental Ombudsman.
In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle, the inspection team leader who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed to divulge the list of 12 non-compliant LGUs in the province of Bohol, which include the towns of Valencia, Sagbayan, Pilar, Jagna, Garcia-Hernandez, Dimiao, Clarin, Carmen, Bien Unido, Batuan, Baclayon and Alburquerque.
The municipal government of Albur is already in the compliance stage as it has already stopped the operation of its privately owned open dumpsite and in view of the fact that the municipality is now operating the Albur Cluster Sanitary Landfill in Barangay Dangay.
The Office of the Environmental Ombudsman has set a deadline which ended last March 31, 2017, for local governments to shut down its open dumpsites or face sanctions under the mandates of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
At present, 60 complaints have been filed by the Ombudsman against local officials who continue to defy the law, the most recent of which was the suspension of the mayor of Bogod City in Cebu.
According to the inspection team leader, the 50 cases is the first batch of cases filed by the Ombudsman to the Sandiganbayan against erring local officials. Non-compliant LGUs in Bohol could be among the second batch of LGUs that could face charges to be filed by the Ombudsman in connection with the operation of open dumpsites.
The NSWMC official bared that there are nearly 600 LGU officials across the country that are being investigated for allegedly allowing open dumpsites.
“It is our goal to provide technical assistance to LGUs who want to comply with the law. The Environmental Ombudsman had said that he will not stop until all non-compliant LGUs are being held liable under the law,” the NSWMC official added.
If found guilty, the erring official may be meted out with the maximum penalty of removal from office and his perpetual disqualification to hold public office, the NSWMC official concluded.