DENR shuts down Batangas sugar mill

MANILA—Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has ordered the closure of a sugar mill in Balayan, Batangas for repeatedly violating the water and air pollution laws.

Paje directed the DENR’s Calabarzon office to serve within 72 hours the cease-and-desist order (CDO) against Batangas Sugar Central Inc. (BSCI).

“I have a marching order to the regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to strictly implement the (order), and make sure that Batangas Sugar Central Incorporated does not operate until its violations are properly addressed,” Paje said.

“I would like to make it clear that the sugar mill is committing two kinds of violations here. One is the violation against environmental laws for its continued emission of smoke and effluents that do not meet the DENR standards, and the other is its blatant disregard of the standing CDO earlier issued against it,” he said.

“Under the law, we can file criminal charges against any firm who continue to defy lawful orders, such as CDOs, issued by the PAB,” Paje said.

He said the sugar mill violated Republic Act N0. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act, and RA 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act.

Paje, who is also the concurrent chairman of the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), said that the PAB can issue a resolution recommending proper government agencies to file criminal charges against firms that grossly violate environmental laws.

In the PAB order, the EMB regional office was tasked to conduct air and water samplings before implementing the order to determine the extent of BSCI’s pollution violations. A public notice will then be installed informing about the firm’s violations and current status.

Paje also directed the regional office to gather necessary evidence and coordinate with the EMB central office for the filing of criminal charges, and to “review other permits and clearances issued to the respondent and immediately cancel such if warranted.”

He also ordered that the offices of the Batangas governor and the Balayan mayor be furnished with a copy of the PAB order.

Late last year, the DENR has slapped fines erring firms and individuals. Benna Enterprises, Clean Earth Solutions International Incorporated, and spouses Sabas and Helen Ilagan, Mega Fishing Corporation, Ayala Seafood Corporation and Silangan Poultry Dressing Plant were fined for violating the effluent standards prescribed in the Clean Water Act of 2004 and its implementing rules and regulations.

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