DENR exec to face graft charge for Canadian trash mess

Imported Canadian trash. Photo © eco-business.com

THE Office of the Ombudsman today it will prosecute a Department of Environment and Natural Resources official for the screw up leading to the abandonment of Canadian trash in the country.

Specifically, DENR Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be prosecuted for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) due to his mishandling of the shipment of container vans consigned to Chronic Plastics.

The Ombudsman, in a statement, said it has found probable cause to prosecute Cuna.

An Ombudsman investigation uncovered that in 2013, Chronic Inc., a Canadian-based company, exported several shipments of container vans declared as plastic scrap materials without securing import entries for its shipment, which arrived in July and August 2013.

Consequently, the shipment was declared as abandoned and upon further inspection, it was discovered that the container vans were filled with garbage.

The DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) also found that the garbage can no longer be recycled and were thus declared illegal due to lack of importation clearance and subject to confiscation and seizure proceedings.

DENR Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna. photo by pinayads.com

Furthermore, upon closer scrutiny of documents, investigators found that Cuna, as then EMB Director, issued a Registry Certificate for the Importation of Recyclable Materials Containing Hazardous Substances dated 19 June 2013 despite the lack of details in the Importer’s Registry Sheet. (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2016/06/28/canada-should-take-back-its-garbage-philippine-green-groups/

It was also found that Cuna issued six Importation Clearances to Chronic Plastics despite an existing Notice of Violation dated 05 September 2013 for importing heterogeneous and assorted plastic materials in violation of DENR Administrative Order No. 1994-28.

In this case, “respondent Cuna acted with gross inexcusable negligence when he issued a Registry Certificate in favor of Chronic Plastics despite the insufficient details in its Importer Registry Sheet. x x x Its failure to comply with the rules is apparent on the face of the application. Without the necessary information, the EMB cannot sufficiently make a determination that Chronic Plastics is capable of recycling materials to be imported. However, despite this, respondent Cuna still approved Chronic Plastic’s application for registration,” stated the Ombudsman Resolution.

It must be emphasized that it is the mission of the EMB to protect, restore and enhance environmental quality towards good public health, environmental integrity and economic viability. It is also mandated to strictly implement environmental laws and restrict or prohibit the importation, manufacture, processing, sale, distribution, use and disposal of chemical substances and mixtures that present unreasonable risk and/or injury to health or the environment,” added the Resolution.

In the parallel administrative case, Cuna was found guilty of Simple Misconduct and ordered suspended without pay for three months.

The DENR Secretary was directed to implement the suspension order.

 

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