All charges against 7 employees of the Environment and Natural Office of the City Government of Dumaguete and 3 private persons filed by the National Bureau of Investigation-Environmental Crime Division of National Capital Region and DENR-EMB Manila were dismissed by the City Prosecutor Office for lack of probable cause.

The Office of the City Prosecutor dismissed the allegations by the NBI and DENR EMB, both based in Manila and which did not coordinate with their local counterparts.

Government Prosecutors ruled that there is no proof and there is absence of sufficient evidence that the respondents established and operated the alleged illegal dumpsite; or that they had actually transported and dumped in bulk the collected wastes or finally, that they have caused actual aquatic pollution in the area.

In a joint resolution dated December 2, 2019, Prosecutors Ryan Buenavista, Leonardo E. Mandajoyan, Angela Charina M. Cortes-Garces duly approved by Joseph Arnel M. Zerna noted that the NBI agents only learned that the City Government is already implementing the safe closure and rehabilitation plan of the Candau-ay dumpsite.

“These revelations raise doubt as to whether the continued operation of the Candau-ay dumpsite in the meantime is truly proscribed or actually tolerated in view of the prevailing circumstances in the full implementation of the plan, including its various challenges.”

“Notably, the DENR-EMB representatives who executed a sworn statement in support of the complaints and who were part of the team who conducted the October 3, 2019 operation at the Candau-ay dumpsite, are not from Region VII but from Region 3,” the prosecutors added.

The respondents, whose cases were dismissed by the Office of the City Prosecutor are Ramonito U. Larena, Anjoe Malolot Naguit, Maria Melinda Jalandoni Sarne, Junmar Andres Futalan, Jesus Kilapkilap Lazaga, Anthony Van Larayos Vendiola, Arnold Decampo Loyola of the City ENRO; Felix B. Caro Jr., driver of Barangay Junob LGU; and private persons Ruel P. Caro and Reynato Raul Y. Ozoa.

The prosecutors in dismissing the second charge of committing aquatic pollution ruled that “there is nothing to show that any dumping of garbage in the dumpsite on October 3, 2019 had, in fact, introduced harmful substances into the nearby Banica River. More importantly, the fact of actual aquatic pollution has not been sufficiently established by evidence.”

In his defense, Ramonito stressed that the safe closure and rehabilitation plan of the Candau-ay dumpsite is being implemented with the knowledge and approval of the DENR and being executed in stages given the gravity of the situation, evident in the City’s purchase of lots in Candau-ay for the MRFs and Sanitary Landfill projects. In fact, the DENR has even pledged to grant the City financial assistance amounting to eight (8) million pesos to aid in this difficult process.

Based on the records, the administration has allocated a total of P 93. 5 million for the required civil works, procurement of heavy equipment and activities in line with the Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan of the Candau-ay dumpsite submitted by Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo and by approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Among the activities and procurement related to the closure of the dumpsite include: Site grading stabilization and final cover of dumpsite, P 2.8 million; Construction of peripheral canal, P 4.9 million; Construction of recirculation tank, P 650, 000; Asphalting of road at dumpsite, P 1.2 million; Construction of perimeter fence, P 980, 000; Construction of guard house, P 108, 000; Installation of signage at dumpsite, P 65, 000; Installation of gas ventilation system, P 125, 000; Installation of perimeter lighting, P 375, 000; Construction of groundwater monitoring wells, P 900, 000; Construction of Materials Recovery Facility at SLF site, P 7.3 million; Purchase of brand new equipment for the operations of MRF, P 15 million; Establishment and construction of categorized final disposal facility (sanitary landfill), P 20.7 million; Improvement and rehabilitation of controlled dumpsite and disposal system, P 7 million and purchase of additional equipment for the improvement and rehabilitation of controlled dumpsite and disposal system P 26 million.

Meanwhile, civil works continue for the P 7 million Central Materials Recovery Facility in the 8-hectare lot in Barangay Candau-ay that will serve as the site for both the MRF and sanitary landfill upon the closure of the dumpsite.

The Central MRF, which was also approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is now 35% complete, according to proponent Engr. Leticia Duran.

The City Government has been in constant communication with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to comply with the ways and means for the responsible closure of the decades-old dumpsite in accordance to the Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan duly approved by the agency.