By NITZ ARANCON and LITO RULONA with EDWIN IYO
REP. Juliette Uy of the 2nd District of Misamis Oriental yesterday called for the arrest and prosecution of those behind what she called as “destructive arson” at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
Uy made the call even as she went public with photographs that show heavy equipment being used to haul tons of garbage as smoke billowed from the fire at the VNS Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp. yard in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Sta. Cruz, Tagoloan town.
The tons of garbage at the Verde Soko plant started a controversy after congressmen exposed that these were shipped and brought in from South Korea. The South Korean trash are supposed to be shipped back next month.
Uy posted the photos on social media even as she urged the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Board to move fast and look into the alleged arson. She posted this with the photos: “These pictures were taken earlier today August 12. Firemen are now there to put out the fire.”
The fire broke on Monday, and it was placed, according to SFO1 Jay Tan.
Tan said the fire started underneath the piles of garbage.
Uy said authorities should arrest those responsible for the alleged arson and for causing air pollution.
“Whoever committed this crime is sabotaging our lawful efforts to enforce our country’s anti-pollution laws. Now, they have made matters worse by polluting the air in Misamis Oriental with the toxic fumes from the burning of the garbage,” Uy said.
Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano expressed concerns about the effects of the fire before government workers during the flag-raising program at the capitol yesterday.
“Imposible nga masunog tungod kay layo-layo kini sa mga panimalay. Busa kinahanglan nga adunay dinalian nga investigation,” Emano said. “Naay nanga-involved ani nga mga dagkong tawo, kinahanglan kini ma-imbestigahan. Kalit lang lugar og kasunog?”
Provincial board member Gerardo Sabal III called on the province’s legislature to summon officials of all government agencies that figured in the controversy about the South Korean trash.
“Dugay nabalik sa Korea and then nasunog. Misamot ka complicated ang maong sitwasyon,” he said.
Sabal said Tagoloan Mayor Gomer Sabio would also be asked to help the provincial board’s environment and sanitation committee by providing it with useful information about the fire.
Sabal said the investigation by the provincial board would determine if the Verde Soko garbage was intentionally burned or not.
Former Talisayan mayor Arturo Sumanpan, a close associate of the Uys, said the Phividec needs to explain what happened because the Verde Soko plant has been abandoned and it is under Phividec jurisdiction.
“How could waste materials catch fire in an open field that has no electricity? These are not highly combustible materials. Mas delikado ang smoke — possibly, may halo nga mga chemicals like radioactive materials nga maka-cause ug lain-laing matang sa sakit sa baga,” Sumanpan quoted Uy as saying.