By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered on Monday the suspension of two Albay town mayors and several local officials for their failure to comply with the proper waste disposal program under RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Management Act of 2000, a top official of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)in Bicol said on Tuesday.
The suspension order was issued on Monday to Polangui town mayor Cherilie Sampal and town councilors Jesciel Richard Salceda, William Buendia, Sr., Edgar Arbo and Edna Siguenza, all Sangguniang Bayan members of Polangui, Albay, according to Eloisa Pastor DILG Regional Director Eloisa Pastor.
In the case of Daraga town, suspension order was issued to former Vice Mayor Carlito Baylon and four other councilors, including the municipal environment officer while Mayor Gerry Jaucian who died recently was no longer included in the same suspension order, Pastor said.
Pastor said affected by the order were local officials who assumed their elective posts in 2013 to 2016 when at that time they continued to operate and maintain an open dumpsite in their respective areas.
The Environmental Team of the Environmental Ombudsman Program slapped one-year suspension against the local officials of Polangui and Daraga after the team found them to be liable for gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The order also carries a directive for them to immediately close and rehabilitate and desist from establishing an open dumpsite in their respective areas.
Polangui town is operating an open dumpsite in Sitio Barobo, Barangay Sugtad while in Daraga has an open dumpsite in Barangay Penafrancia.
The suspension orders were penned on June 27, 2018 respectively by Ma. Jennifer Otiliano-Lacea, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II and Sylvia Severo Paraiso, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III, both of the Special Panel E of the Environmental Ombudsman Program, and approved by Gerard Mosquera, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.
Earlier, the National Solid Waste Commission in February 2016 warned six Albay towns, including a city, before filing the cases before the Office of the Ombudsman, for operating open dumpsites in their respective areas in violation of the Ecological Solid Management Act of 2000.
Other LGUs facing charges
Aside from Daraga and Polangui, other LGUs facing charges were the towns of Camalig, Guinobatan, Tiwi and Tabaco City, according to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
In an earlier report, the six Albay towns were among the 50 towns and cities across the country that belong to the first batch of LGUs that have been assessed and validated by the NSWC to be non-compliant with the Ecological Solid Management Act despite repeated warnings.
The report said the six LGUs were included in the first batch to be advised to comply with the law or face administrative and criminal charges.
The commission assessment found out that the five towns and Tabaco City have violated the said Act by continuing to use -- despite the lapse of reglamentary period -- open dump sites in the disposal of their wastes instead of closing them on deadline given