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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, October 10, 2019
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Local NBI denies involvement
in arrest of garbage collectors
BY JUANCHO GALLARDE

 

The National Bureau of Investigation district office in Dumaguete said recently that it has nothing to do with the operation conducted by NBI agents from Manila on October 3 that resulted in the arrest of nine employees of the city government and one from a private university, for allegedly dumping wastes in an open dumpsite.

NBI Special Investigation III Ma. Contessa Lastimoso said the Environmental Crime Division of the NBI in Manila, headed by lawyer Czar Eric Nuqui, sent an email on that day that they would conduct a surveillance and possible counter-action operation in Negros Oriental without specifics.

She told the Committee on Peace and Order and Public Safety of the Sangguniang Panlungsod that the NBI and other law enforcement agencies strictly observe a system of compartmentalization, or a “need to know basis only,” and that they can operate anywhere in the country provided they have the permission of the office of the deputy director for regional operations service.

She said there was nothing irregular with regards to the handling of the case because the local NBI can also do that. But at all times, it would be best to consult with local operatives, in this case NBI Dumaguete, because they know the situation here better than their counterpart in Manila, she said.

However, Lastimoso said it would have been best if they communicated with the regional office of the DENR to be updated on recent developments of the garbage dumpsite, and that a transition period is in effect after approval of the safe closure and rehabilitation plan.

Lastimoso said the local NBI has not operated on the existence of the open dumpsite because they are aware of the gravity of the problem and that a transition measure is being undertaken, including the acquisition of a lot where a sanitary landfill will be constructed.

An agent of the environmental crime division in Manila appeared before the local police station to record their presence and conduct a surveillance operation and possible counteraction but Lastimoso is not aware if their counterpart in Manila had coordinated with the local DENR, she said.

The participation local NBI was after the garbage collectors and drivers were arrested because they were brought to the NBI office for processing, and charged for violations of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines as amended by RA 10654 on Aquatic Pollution.

Charged before the City Prosecutor’s Office were Ramonito Larena, Anjoe Naguit, Ruel Caro, Maria Merlinda Sarne, Renato Raul Ozoa, Felix Caro Jr., Junmar Futalan Andres, Jesus Lazaga, Anthon Van Vendiola and Arnold Loyola. The City Legal Office is preparing for their answers.

The complainants are agents Rex Randolf Pioy, Marvin Matamis, SI Roy Rufino Zunega, SI Claro Ramos, SI Edsel Pelete, and SI Rizaldy Rivera, all from the Environmental Crime Division of NBI Manila.

The Dumaguete SP condemned the action of the NBI agents from Manila and deemed it proper for the city to file counter charges. Councilor Michael Bandal said, “We are not the type of an LGU that the NBI Manila can just bully and get away with it. The use of unreasonable force against ordinary garbage collectors should also be investigated.”*

 

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