THE Office of the Ombudsman would investigate close to 600 local government executives in the country’s 13 administrative regions for violations of Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000).
In 50 complaints filed by Romeo Hidalgo of the Ecowaste Coalition, it was reported that “field investigations reveal that the officials committed violations of RA 9003 and its implementing rules and regulations.”
Hidalgo said mayors, vice-mayors and Sanggunian members have “the mandate to establish policies and having control over the funds of the city” and that “they conspired in committing the violations of R.A. No. 9003 within their jurisdiction.”
Under R.A. No. 9003, “no open dump sites shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs, which constitutes the use of open dumps for solid wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act, every LGU shall convert its open dumps to controlled dumps.”
It will be recalled that in 2013, the Environmental Ombudsman program, in collaboration with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), launched a three-year nationwide campaign to increase awareness of, and promote voluntary compliance with R.A. No. 9003.
Under this program, the local government units were directed to conduct their respective self-assessment as to their compliance status and to voluntarily implement corrective actions. Two years after implementation, tracer results show that R.A. No. 9003 remains to be the least prioritized local government program.
The DENR-EMB has identified and submitted the list of 350 LGUs with recurring and blatant violations of open dump sites to the Ombudsman.
Phase two of the project aims to improve compliance through the submission by the LGUs of their respective Priority Corrective Action Plan (PCAP) to be implemented within a six-month period and/or the submission of a 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan.
Under its mandate, the Environmental Ombudsman Team headed by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, shall handle complaints filed against any public official, employee, office or agency mandated to protect the environment and conserve natural resources where the act complained of appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.
The Team also acts on any malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance committed by any public officer or employee, including conspiring private individuals, if said act or omission involves any violation of environmental laws or concerns or relates to environmental protection or conservation.