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EDITORIAL: Burn, burn

THE continuous rains that came hitting the dry lands before, during and after Tropical Depression Falcon have rendered wet if not under water many parts of the Luzon and the islands in Palawan and the Visayas. They were both a bane and a boon to those hard hit by the storm on one hand, and the farmers whose erstwhile parched lands are needed to be nurtured by overflowing water, on the other, as well as the city dwellers who felt dehydrated after a long bout with the scorching heat of the sun.

But after the rain and when the fallen leaves and other debris begin to dry, expect an ancient habit in some spots or backyards in the city to rear its ugly head again. This involves the open burning of solid waste, such as leaves and other agricultural wastes and dry branches despite the law banning their incineration in the open.

Republic Act No. 9003 makes it unlawful to burn solid waste and other dry materials, such as dry leaves, paper, and other trash. Violators will be fined P1,000 to P3,000 or be imprisoned for 15 days to six months. Then there is also R. A. 9514, otherwise known as the Fire Code of the Philippines which bans burning because they contribute to air pollution, endanger fire, and bring health hazards to affected residents.

Incidentally, our attention was caught by a complaint of residents regarding the constant burning of dry leaves, twigs and other dry materials inside the compound of the Camarines Sur provincial police office in Concepcion Grande, Naga City which is adjacent to a private subdivision.

The residents said one of them had gone to the provincial police headquarters to personally air their problem before the officers on duty at the provincial command while during that very instant dried leaves, gathered after cleaning the premises, were left burning.

The PNP chief at the provincial headquarters said they will look at the problem, but several days later, smoke came out again emanating from burning leaves that almost suffocated the children and the homeowners in the adjoining private subdivision.

So now, the law enforcers have become law violators themselves, perpetrating a crime before their very eyes.

According to RA 9003, concerned residents must report any incident of open burning. It would be better if such violation is documented in videos and actual photo of the incident as future evidence.

Concerned residents must bring their complaint to the Punong Barangay or any barangay official for immediate action. Non-action by the barangay official means the latter may be summoned to the nearest DENR office that will expedite the filing of appropriate charge against violators. The complainant may also go directly to the Bureau of Fire Protection and/or city or municipal Fire Marshall. Or eventually to the local prosecutor’s office. To sue for damages, the affected residents must consult a lawyer who may file the necessary complaint before the court. It will help if a picture or video copy of the burning incident may be attached for proper disposition by the court.

It is bad enough that abuse of our planet is being committed by our men in uniform whom we thought had pledged to serve and protect us from criminals and law violators.

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