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Sorsogon politikos demand closure of polluting buko juice factory

Jul 24, 2015 @ 4:54

City councilors of Sorsogon have demanded stern action against a local buko juice factory for allegedly polluting the city’s waterways.

In a session of the Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP), the councilors grilled the head of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for its failure to act on the violations of environmental laws committed by the Peter Paul Corporation (PPC).

PPC is the operator of the buko juice factory located at Barangay Cabid-an just across the city hall complex.

In its official website, PPC claims to operate the largest single production facility of desiccated coconut in the world, with a rated capacity of 22,000 metric tons per year.

Councilor Larry Dioneda said there had been numerous findings against the company and wondered why these were not being considered by the local EMB office.

He demanded that other sanctions be imposed on the erring company.

“There had been a lot of findings and recommendation for its closure, are these not yet enough for EMB to act on?” Dioneda asked

EMB regional director Robert Sheen admitted that PPC committed violations of environmental laws but they were still not enough to warrant the closure or to order a stop to the factory’s operation.

Sheen said he is inclined to endorse the case to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), which is under the Office of the President, since the violations had been repeatedly committed but did not say why his office could not act on its own.

City Councilor Florencio Jamisola, on the other hand, also demanded that EMB “fast-track” its action on the situation to alleviate the sufferings of the people directly affected by the air and water pollution caused by the buko juice factory.

“We bear the brunt of the people’s ire,” Jamisola lamented.

The councilors, however, acknowledged that the factory is one big employer in the city with its 1,600 workers.

Responding for the PPC, lawyer Ferdinand Laguna, himself a former city councilor, admitted that the company had indeed committed some infractions but that these were promptly acted upon by the management.

“In fact the company had spent about P200M just for its water treatment plant and other pollution control facilities which are requirements of the law,” he pointed out.

He also revealed that many of the individuals supposedly affected by the violations are now employed by the company as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.

“The PPC had also agreed to adopt the Cabid-an creek and spend for its upkeep to ensure that it is clean and free from pollution,” Laguna added.

Despite the pronouncements by the PPC’S lawyer, however, Councilor Rogelio Jebulan still insisted that the company temporarily cease its operation pending full compliance with all the environmental requirements, saying that the council did not see any sincerity on the part of the company.

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