Former Alburquerque town Mayor Efren Tungol clarified that the old public dumpsite in the hinterlands of the municipality has long been shut down and is even undergoing rehabilitation process.
The site’s rehabilitation will take years as it was used as a public waste disposal facility by residents of Alburquerque for a very long time, Tungol explained.
“It is no longer an open dumpsite contrary to what the incumbent mayor wants the public to believe it to be,” Tungol added.
Even though the old dumpsite was closed almost five years ago, foul odor still emanate from it due to tons of garbage accumulated in the area through years of waste-dumping by residents of Albur.
The public misconception must be corrected, according to Tungol, as the people of Albur is being led to believe that the old public dumpsite is still being used as waste disposal facility, a lie peddled by his political rival, incumbent Municipal Mayor Don Ritchie Buates.
It may be recalled that Buates issued a closure order of the facility citing public complaints received by his office.
However, Tungol said that the complaints supposedly received by the mayor is just a politically motivated issue that has no basis.
“While the site is undergoing rehabilitation, it is being utilized as a materials recovery and composting facility,” the former mayor said.
Tungol explained thatrehabilitating land previously used as an open dumpsite will take years and even decades, before it can be utilized or be safe again for private use.
According to the former mayor, as owner of the property, he has spent personal funds in undertaking the rehabilitation of the area which is currently undergoing leeching and other processes compliant with environmental guidelines.
Some residents of Albur have criticized the alleged operation of the facility, saying it is still used as an open dumpsite.
Tungol said that in order to keep the public from entering and disposing their garbage at the site, he erected fences to secure the area and put up “no trespassing” signs, as well as signages warning the public that the area is a private property.
“At the time I was elected as Mayor, the people of the municipality were faced with the problem of where to dispose the wastes and garbage from their respective households or commercial establishments. It was for this reason, being the incumbent mayor and in the spirit of public service that I voluntarily allowed the free use of my property as a waste disposal facility. During the long period of time that I served as mayor, said property was utilized by the people of Albur as their garbage dumpsite,” Tungol said.
According to Tungol, while he allowed the public to dispose their wastes in his property, he also recognized the fact that open dumpsites were to be ultimately banned throughout the country due to the passage of Republic Act 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
As municipal mayor,Tungol said he endeavored the construction and the realization of a cluster sanitary landfill project in the municipality to be used as the waste disposal facility of not only the people of Albur, but also neighboring municipalities and even Tagbilaran City.
“With the help of the national and provincial government, my dream of a sanitary landfill facility in Alburquerque came to fruition in 2016 into what is now known as the Alburquerque Cluster Sanitary Landfill (ACSLF) situated in Barangay Dangay, and is presently being used as the waste disposal site of 21 neighboring municipalities and Tagbilaran City,” Tungol added.
The operationalization of the ACSLF prompted Tungolto shutdown the open dumpsite on his property. From the time he closed the former dumpsite, he disallowed the public from using it as garbage disposal site and began the lengthy and expensive process of rehabilitating said property so that he could use it for more productive purposes.
“This property has been used by the general public as garbage dumpsite for so many years, and now I have to rehabilitate it so I can beneficially use it,” the former mayor said.
Tungol obtained a Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC) for the facility from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In fact, right in front of the fenced premises of the former dumpsite is a huge signage displaying the CNC and the usage of the site as a materials recovery facility (MRF).
While open dumpsites are prohibited, Tungol explained that under RA 9003, the operation of an MRF is allowed.
“Contrary to public misconception, the odor emanating from the site is not solely attributable to the materials being sorted or the wastes undergoing composting but to the tons of garbage that were dumped in the site over the years it was used as the public’s open dumpsite,” he said.
In fact, Tungol showed a copy of a report, dated January 17, 2019, following an inspection and investigation was conducted by the EMB and the Bohol Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO), which found the site to be compliant with environmental standards and within the parameters of the CNC issued for the project site.
“The EMB investigation and inspection report shows that the incumbent mayor is just trying to create a negative public perception about the site,” Tungol pointed out.
Early this year, Tungol filed criminal cases for trespass to property and malicious mischeif against East PoblacionPunong Barangay Marilyn Buates, the incumbent mayor’s mother, for allegedly intruding the site and destroying a section of its fence in the guise of conducting an inspection.
With Buates’ closure order of the facility still enforced, Tungol said his rehabilitation project of the site is affected while his businesses are also continually incurring damages.
It may be recalled that Tungol challenged said closure order by way of a petition for Declaratory Relief with prayer for issuance of status quo ante order and writ of preliminary mandatory injunction before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 50 in Loay.
Tungol stressed that he hopes the court will consider granting the injunction and acknowledge the fact that the site is covered by a CNC and is in fact operating as an MRF, not as an open dumpsite as stated in the closure order.
“The closure order is based on a wrong premise and misconceptions. Hopefully, the court will recognize these facts and help correct the misconceptions and lift the closure order,” Tungol said.
*This story was first published on The Bohol Chronicle’s October 27, 2019 edition.