CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A resort-hotel owner in Camiguin has filed charges against two members of the local ruling political family for ordering her establishment’s closure because of the latter’s political vendetta.
Suzette Good, the owner of Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin (BBC) located in Mambajao, filed cases against Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo and wife, former governor Maria Luisa at the Ombudsman Mindanao regional office on grounds of violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees and grave misconduct.
The complaint raised that the Romualdos abused their power by spreading false information about her establishment and later closed the establishment, all due to her support to a rival candidate during the May 13 election.
Good said the issue started after she liked and commented on a Facebook post of lawyer Carlo Borromeo, who ran and lost for Mambajao’s mayoralty post last May against Yñigo Jesus, the son of the Romualdos.
Good said that after her post, Jurdin Romualdo threatened to close down BBC.
She alleged that Jurdin, who was then the mayor of Mambajao, spread false information against the resort during the campaign, alleging that the resort threw its waste materials into the sea and creek, an allegation Good denies.
These accusations, Good said, has tarnished the reputation of BBC, which is considered as one of the classy hotels in the island-province.
Governor Romualdo insists that BBC was in violation of environment laws based on the findings of the Mambajao municipal health office (MHO) and the Environmental Management Bureau-10 (EMB-10), which conducted their inspections separately. This he said in a phone interview.
But Good said in her complaint that Romualdo ordered BBC’s closure without due process on May 6, 2019, but she was able to secure the temporary restraining order, and later, a writ of preliminary injunction from the court.
Good’s legal counsel, Atty. Homer Mabale, said the order to close down BBC was politically motivated, adding that there is no way for the hotel to indiscriminately dispose of human waste as the facility has 16 huge septic tanks.
Mabale said BBC only throws its biodegradable wastes in a compost pit at Kabuhi Pandan.
“The closure order is not in accord with the basic provisions of the Sanitary Code of the Philippines, specifically Section 103 thereof, and the respondent gravely acted without or in excess of his jurisdiction and/or have exercised his power with grave abuse of discretion considering that the penalty imposed under PD 856 is merely for misdemeanor,” Mabale said.
The Mambajao MHO report, based on the conduct of a sanitation inspection conducted last April 22, 2019 at the BBC compost pit in Sitio Kabuhi Pandan, said that “the disposal of their (BBC) biodegradable was scattered and dumped in an open space” and that there was “improper disposal of liquid waste.”
The report, signed by municipal health officer Dr. Angeline Paulma, said these acts were in violation under the Revised Ecological Solid Waste Management of the Municipality of Mambajao.
The MHO also noted the following violations: establishment or operation of open dumps as enjoined in Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001; open dumping, burying of biodegradable or non-biodegradable materials in flood-prone areas; and violation of PD 856 or the Sanitation Code of the Philippines, particularly in chapter 17, the sewage collection and disposal.
The EMB-10, in its two letters, addressed to BBC manager Marie Climaco, said the hotel violated provisions of the following: Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004, PD 1586 or the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System, and its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).
The agency, which conducted its own inspection on May 20, 2019, found out that BBC “failed to submit quarterly self-monitoring report (SMR) and to designate an accredited Pollution Control Officer (PCO).”
EMB-10 also took note that BBC failed “to conduct quarterly monitoring of water quality in the area and to submit the result thereof to EMB, in violation of ECC condition no. 2.”
The Bureau added: “Bits and pieces of non-biodegradable waste were observed scattered in the disposal area in violation of ECC condition no. 3” and “failure to submit semi-annual Compliance Monitoring Report (CMR) in violation of DAO 2003-30,” referring to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order.
Romualdo insists that the closure was legal as it was covered by existing ordinances, adding that BBC was being penalized by EMB-10 for these violations.
The governor said the local government can only allow the issuance of a business permit to establishments such as BBC if they act on the violations, pay the corresponding fines, and abide by the environmental laws.
Romualdo said he is ready to face the charges filed against him by Good.
“I will answer that when I will receive a copy of the cases,” he added.(davaotoday.com)