Environmental lawyers want deeper investigation, heftier fines for hospital waste incident

By Morexette Marie B. Erram |January 11,2019 - 07:17 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Environmental lawyers in Cebu want the government to impose heftier sanctions and fines on those who violate environmental laws. 

They also want government agencies to step up in reinforcing environmental protection policies.

This developed after environmental officers from the Lapu-Lapu City government collected more hospital wastes containing infectious substances on Friday on Mactan Channel.

In a text message sent to Cebu Daily News Digital, lawyer Benjamin Cabrido wanted that those who are accountable for the reckless disposal of hospital wastes to clean the entire coast of Lapu-Lapu City where the trash were mostly washed up. 

He added imposing a fine is simply not enough. 

 

“The imposition of fine isn’t enough. Under the Clean Water Act, these erring hospitals and waste collection companies must be ordered to clean up the entire channel and tributaries,” Cabrido said. 

 

Cabrido, who is also the lead counsel of the landslide victims in Naga City, said their team is willing to assist the City Legal Office of Lapu-Lapu City on filing charges against the concerned firms.

 

“If they’ll ask for our assistance, we can enter as special counsel or prosecutor,” he added. 

The Lapu-Lapu City Legal Office is now building up the case against erring hospitals and waste treatment companies. 

 

Meanwhile, Oceana Philippines Vice President and CDN columnist, lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, said the recommendation made by the Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas (EMB-7) to fine erring agencies does not mean that a deeper investigation on the incident should not be conducted.

“That doesn’t stop the city (Lapu-Lapu), and even other government agencies to investigate further. DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) is not the final arbiter. We’re talking about hazardous wastes. So, let’s raise our standards,” said Ramos in a separate interview with CDN. 

EMB-7 recommended to slap Davao City Environmental Care Inc. (DCECI) a P250,000 fine and P110,000 for its client, Chong Hua Hospital. 

 

According to Cabrido, the fact that the hospital wastes collected from Mactan Channel still bore stickers of the hospitals where they originated is already ‘prima facie evidence’. 

 

Meanwhile, Ramos called on other government agencies to help address the problem.

She suggested for the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate how state environmental officers from the DENR are implementing laws pertaining to waste management and the Clean Water Act. 

 

Ramos also called on the Department of Health (DOH) to step in and conduct their own investigation. /rcg

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