Court to conduct Naga inspection
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - April 5, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Regional Trial Court (RTC) would visit the areas affected by the massive landslide in Naga City before it will rule on the temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) the affected families had earlier sought for.

This, after lawyer Benjamin Cabrido, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, had asked the court to reconsider its ruling denying their plea to have an ocular inspection in the quarrying site.

Cabrido, in its oral argument, said it was very important for the court to reconsider its ruling to witness for itself what happened in the area.

RTC Branch 23 Judge Generosa Labra vacated its order and set the visitation on May 29.

On November 7, 2018, 39 residents of Barangay Tinaan and two others, including the Philippine Earth Justice Center Inc., had filed a P4.5-billion class suit to stop the quarrying in Naga City following the landslide that killed 78 individuals and injured seven people.  Six individuals are still reported missing.

Cabrido argued that there is a need for the issuance of TEPO to stop the Apo Land from engaging and doing quarry operation within its tenement areas in Naga City. In fact, he said there were visible cracks in the area.

They believed that despite the cease and desist order issued by the concerned government offices, the Apo Land continued its operation that posed ongoing threats to the residents.

Lawyer Eduardo Soleng, Jr. of the Apo Land denied the ongoing quarry operation.

“There is nothing to prevent,” he said, adding there was no necessity for the issuance of TEPO because of the existing cease and desist order.

What was being done in the quarrying site, he said, is a hazard reduction plan because of the loose debris due to the landslide. This is contrary to the claims of the plaintiffs that there are quarrying and mining activities.

Such hazard reduction plan has been approved by the Mining and Geo-Sciences Bureau, Soleng added.

The case filed was for the restitution of damage of the natural and human environment and the issuance of environmental protection order against quarry operations in Cebu Island with prayer for temporary protection order, writ of continuing mandamus for the determination of the carrying capacity of Cebu Island and rehabilitation and restoration of the damaged ecosystem.

Named defendants were Cemex Holdings Philippines Inc., Apo Land and Quarry Corp (ALQC)., Apo Cement Corp., Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office-7, City Government of Naga, and Cebu Province.  — GAN (FREEMAN)

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