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Expired canned goods, poultry wastes unearthed in the farm of Palompon mayor

By: Futch Anthony Inso - CDN Digital Correspondent | January 26,2024 - 07:49 PM


Poultry wastes and expired canned goods were unearthed from a farm in Palompon, Leyte, reportedly owned by the town’s mayor, Ramon Oñate./Contributed photos

ORMOC CITY, Leyte —Tons of poultry wastes and expired canned goods, believed to be intended as donations for Yolanda victims, were unearthed from a farm in Palompon, Leyte, reportedly owned by the town’s mayor, Ramon Oñate.

On Sunday, January 21, 2024, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 8 spearheaded the excavation of three sites inside the DBSN poultry farm in Barangay San Joaquin, by virtue of a search warrant issued by Tacloban City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Georgina Perez.

A case for the violation of Republic Act No. 11038, also known as the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System Act of 2018, has already been filed against the poultry farm, represented by its manager, Rodante Bien Cabello, and its CEO, Mayor Oñate.

The location of the farm has been declared a protected watershed area, and the buried wastes have already affected the water quality of the area’s springs and rivers.

Based on research conducted by the University of Sto. Tomas, the river in the watershed area was found to be contaminated with bacteria and inhabited by blood worms. The excavation site emitted a foul odor.

Lawyer Lloyd Surigao, the legal counsel of the complainants and witnesses, considered this development as an initial legal victory for his clients.

However, Surigao said that he would be requesting the court to continue the excavation on all the 30 sites identified by his clients where the wastes and garbage were buried.

“The decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 45 permitting the search and excavation of several areas of the Palompon Protected Watershed being occupied by the poultry farm is a huge victory for our clients, regular citizens who have taken a staunch stand against the mayor of their town, whose family owns DBSN. These people are outranked in power and influence, and yet they stood their ground to defend their survival,” Surigao said.

On January 19, when the court first implemented the search warrant, some government vehicles and town employees were deployed in the area to serve as human barricades to prevent the search.

Aside from San Joaquin, its neighboring town in Barangay Antipolo, Albuera, Leyte, was also affected by the contamination of the watershed.

Mayor Oñate, on his part, said that their family was vindicated by the excavation activity, since no hazardous wastes were found in the sites.

“Wala silang nakuha. Wala silang nakuha na ebidensya that we were conducting a massive dumping of hazardous and infectious waste coming from Albuera. Never, not even a single needle that they were able to retrieve as evidence against us,” Oñate said.

But Surigao clarified that under the NIPAS Act, dumping of wastes and garbage is prohibited, may it be hazardous or not.

“I challenge the mayor. Inom siya og tubig didto sa nakalutan,” Surigao added.

He also urged other agencies, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Commission on Audit (COA), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to conduct their own investigation into this controversy, especially regarding the presence of expired donations and the use of government vehicles and employees to prevent the implementation of the search warrant.


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TAGS: donations, Leyte, Super Typhoon Yolanda

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