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Polluting Davao firm still operating
Hernani P. De Leon, BusinessWorld (19 Aug 2004)

DAVAO CITY, PHILIPPINES: Almost a month after Mayor Rodrigo Duterte issued an order for local officials to issue sanctions against a polluting firm, city council members said the order seemed to have been ignored.

On Tuesday, the council approved a resolution putting more pressure on the city's business bureau, as well as health and environment and natural resources offices to slap a closure against Julu Enterprises, which is engaged in corn starch and feed manufacturing.

Previous telephone calls made by BusinessWorld to the firm's management have failed to solicit an official response.

City council members noted they have to resort to a resolution to speed up the process against Julu, whose manufacturing plant reportedly emits foul odor and releases untreated water on a creek that passes through a residential and commercial area in this city's Toril district.

Leo Avila, city council member, reiterated that the complainants have been frustrated with inaction from the mayor's office. In June, residents also blamed the Quezon City-based Pollution Adjudication Board for failure to act on the case despite a recommendation for a cease-and-desist order from the regional environment office.

Mr. Avila, in a privilege speech, said some residents are now thinking that the company has paid off some government officials thereby allowing it to operate despite findings by the regional Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that it violated existing laws on pollution.

In the second week of July, the regional EMB office submitted a recommendation to the Pollution Adjudication Board in Quezon City asking for Julu's immediate closure. The board, operating under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was too slow on the regional EMB's recommendation.

This prompted Edgar Rubi, the bureau's environmental officer here assigned on the Julu case, to send a letter to Mr. Duterte in the third week of July aimed at speeding up the closure of the firm due to mounting complaints from residents and establishments affected by foul odor and water pollution. Mr. Rubi's letter said there is strong evidence that the company's actions pose a "threat to life, public health and safety or general welfare."

Mr. Rubi's team has taken samples of the water from the creek where effluents from the plant were discharged during the night. The samples, environment officials said, indicated the water quality from the creek has significantly deteriorated and fell into Category D in the water classification.

Living organisms could hardly survive under such water category. The regional environment office said the firm had applied for a sludge drying project in June but this was disapproved also due to the foul odor the project would emit.

Copyright ©2004 BusinessWorld Online, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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