BAGUIO CITY – The Pollution Adjudication board (PAB, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), directed its secretariat to validate the complaint of the Baguio Water District (BWD) against Rep. Nicaio M. Aliping, Jr. and three property developers for violation of the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9275 otherwise known as the Clean Water Act for dumping earthworks along the Amliang river that resulted to the shutting down of the water district’s three springs serving as one of the major sources of water for the city and nearby Tuba, Benguet.
In an order dated May 5, 2015 signed by Environment Undersecretary Demetrio L. Ignacio, Jr., PAB Presiding Officer, the earlier resolution of the Board on the water pollution case against Aliping and his cohorts, William Go of Goldrich Construction; Engr. Romeo U. Aquino of R.U.Aquino Construction and Development Corporation and Bernardo Capuyan of BLC Construction and Aggregates, was deferred to give time for the secretariat to validate the circumstances and details of the aforesaid case.
“The Board further directs the Secretariat in coordination with the regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau – Cordillera Administrative Region (EMB-CAR) to validate respondent’s earthmoving activity compliance with the existing environmental laws, policies and regulations implemented by the Bureau,” the one-page order stated.
Earlier, the 5th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) made permanent the Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO) earlier issued against Aliping and his cohorts and stopped the lawmaker’s improvements on his alleged declared property within the Mount Sto. Tomas forest reservation.
It can be recalled that Aliping tried to construct a 2.6-kilometer road within the forest reservation leading to the property that he bought from claimants in reparation for the put up of an eco-park but his earthmoving activities with the use of the units of heavy equipment of the aforesaid contractors resulted to the dumping of earthworks in the Amliang creek that resulted to the subsequent shutdown of the three Amliang springs.
For at least three months, BWD was not able to utilize the Amliang springs as its source of water for over 30 percent of its consumers and reportedly spent more than P2 million to clean its pipelines and the springs from the debris that came from Aliping’s alleged earthmoving activities above the river.
BWD subsequently filed the water pollution case Against Aliping and three contractors before the PAB late last year but on February 12, 2015, the Board issued the decision to defer resolving the case subject to verified inspection of the affected place.
Engr. Alex Luis of the EMB-CAR said the Board Secretariat initially conducted an inspection in the affected area before it submitted its report to the PAB but the upcoming validation inspection will verify the contents of the earlier submitted to the Board and the allegations in the complaint of BWD.
He added the decision of the PAB will take some time considering the need for concerned agencies to consolidate their findings and recommendations that will guide the PAB in coming out with a decision whether or not to convict the respondents for such complaint and order them fined for damaging the state of the Amliang springs and the river. By Dexter A. See