The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the indictment of former mayor Isagani Castro and 10 other local officials of Paombong, Bulacan for the alleged illegal operation of the dumpsite.
The Paombong officials allegedly violated Section 48(9) in relation to Sections 37 and 49(d) of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Aside from Castro, also to be charged before the Sandiganbayan are former vice-mayor Marisa Ramos, Sangguniang Bayan (SB) members Myrna Valencia, Luisito Arellano, Francisco Valencia, Maximo Tanghal, Reynaldo Sulit, Arnaldo Mendoza, James Jester Santos, Zoilo Estrella, and Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) Marciana Tanghal.
Incumbent SB members Mendoza, Santos, Estrella and MENRO Tanghal were also found guilty of gross neglect of duty and were ordered suspended for one year.
The Ombudsman noted that as early as 2011, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office (DENR RO) issued a Notice of Closure directing the local government unit (LGU) of Paombong to cease and desist from operating an open dumpsite located at Brgy. San Isidro II, Paombong, Bulacan, and cause its rehabilitation.
However, the local officials continued to allow the operation of the open dumpsite in violation of RA 9003.
Despite repeated order from the DENR to close the dumpsite, its operation continued for over a decade.
In a separate ocular inspection by the members of the Environmental Ombudsman team in August 2016, they found out that the dumpsite was adjacent to the Labangan Channel (Angat River) and fishpond area located within a nearby residential area. The proximity of the garbage and fishpond is less than one meter with some garbage already reaching the waters of the Labangan Channel. They also found that trash was dumped without segregation.
In its Resolution, the Ombudsman said the respondents “not only glaringly failed to perform their legal duty but likewise blatantly and with impunity violated the law by unabashedly operating an open dumpsite.”
Under Section 37 of R.A. No. 9003, no open dumps shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs, which constitute the use of open dumps for solid wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of the law; provided that within three years after the effectivity of the law, every LGU shall convert its open dumps into controlled dumps, in accordance with the guidelines set in Section 41 thereof; provided further that no controlled dumps shall be allowed five years following the effectivity of the law.