The Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 50 in Loay, Bohol has upheld the closure order issued by Alburquerque Mayor Don Ritchie Buates against an open dumpsite operated by his political nemesis, former mayor Efren Tungol.
It may be recalled that Tungol filed before the RTC a complaint for declaratory relief with a prayer for issuance of status quo ante order and writ of preliminary mandatory injunction seeking the revocation of Executive Order No. 2019-01, Series of 2019, which was issued by Mayor Buates last July 8, 2019 directing the closure of the open dumpsite operated by the former mayor.
In a three-page order, RTC-Branch 50 Presiding Judge Rufo Naragas denied Tungol’s prayer for the issuance of a status quo ante order which the court treated as a prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO).
During an ocular inspection on September 6, 2019, Judge Naragas was able to verify that the waste disposal facility which Tungol claims as his material recovery facility (MRF), was indeed operating as open dumpsite.
“A foul stench greeted one even before arriving at the facility. At the site, the odor is so foul one might be induced into vomiting. It was made clear to the court that there is no proper procedure in the materials recovery facility,” Judge Naragas states in the court order.
The court also said that it cannot grant a TRO in favor of Tungol as the latter “did not sufficiently make out a case for a TRO” in the allegations of his pleading.
Moreover, since the facility has long been closed by Mayor Buates, the act of closure cannot be undone by a status quo order from the court, the order added.
While Sec. 5, Rule 57 of the Rules of Court allows the issuance of a TRO in matters of extreme urgency that would cause great and irreparable injury to the applicant, the court observed that there is no evidence or computation to support Tungol’s claim of damages.
The court also found out that Tungol’s dumpsite commenced operation either in 2016 or 2017, long after the passage of Republic Act 9003 in 2001 which prohibits the establishment of open dumpsites.
The court said it could not grant a TRO in Tungol’s favor as it would amount to “condoning a blatant violation of the law.”
Although Tungol has made it appear that the site is covered by a Certificate of Non-Coverage issued by the DENR, the court found that the facility is actually being used as a dumping site for chicken dung, waste, organs, and carcasses.
MAYOR’S CLOSURE ORDER JUSTIFIED
The court said it could not yet rule on the propriety of Mayor Buates’ executive order directing the facility’s closure.
However, the court cited cases in which the Supreme Court declared municipal mayors who opposed further dumping of waste in their localities, to be acting within the scope of their powers, and were in fact fulfilling their mandate.
SHUTDOWN OF POULTRY, DRESSING PLANT LOOMS
When called by the Chronicle, Buates pointed out that the findings of the composite team which conducted prior inspection of the dumpsite last June 2019 has been confirmed by the court’s ocular inspection.
The mayor said that the dumpsite is clearly being used as a disposal facility for the wastes generated from the operations of Tungol’s broiler chicken poultry farm and the broiler dressing plant. Buates likewise hinted at possible closure of the farm and dressing plant due to several violations in the issuance of permits to these businesses since sanitary parameters are clearly not complied with, as established during the ocular inspection.