CALAMBA CITY, Laguna — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday ordered the suspension of the operations of piggeries and poultry farms that are polluting the Laguna Lake after these were found to have violated Republic Act 9003 or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000″.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu issued the directive to the Laguna Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) at the sidelines of the inauguration of the agency’s new regional office building in Calabarzon.
“I want to know where the wastes are coming from, especially the discharge from the piggeries and to cancel all their Environment Compliance Certificates (ECCs),” Cimatu said.
The DENR chief said he was surprised with PENRO’s disclosure that around 20 towns and five component cities located along the shorelines of the lake have poultry farms and piggeries that have no water treatment facilities and were found to be dumping animal wastes into its waters.
“We have to be assertive in our fight. Let us not pollute our rivers and Laguna Lake,” Cimatu said in Filipino.
He was also informed that San Cristobal River in this city, one of the 14 major rivers and tributaries that flow into the lake, was found to have wastes and pollutants which allegedly come from its upstream San Juan River in the adjacent towns of Sto. Tomas and Tanauan City.
Findings of the quality testing and monitoring conducted by the Laguna PENRO showed waters of the San Cristobal River contain 20 million coliform bacteria.
“I am very particular about the out-falls to make sure that all the out-falls in Laguna are your responsibility,” Cimatu said.
He ordered the Laguna and Batangas PENRO to take water samples to test the level of coliform contaminants from each river.
He also tasked the Environment Management Bureau Region 4A to take samples from the out-falls from Laguna Lake and both Laguna and Batangas PENROs to clean the two rivers, including the esteros and canals which flow into these rivers.
He also urged PENRO and CENRO officials to coordinate with the local government units and volunteers in the clean-up drive.
In a media interview, Undersecretary for Strategic Communications Benny Antiporda clarified that the DENR cannot just issue a cease and desist order (CDOs) to establishments polluting bodies of water.
“If these have not been confirmed, we do not indiscriminately issue the CDOs. What we do is to check it well kung ma-mitigate nila yung problema, gagawan natin ng paraan. Pero doon naman sa talagang nagbibigay ng sobrang pollution, (if they would be able to mitigate the problem, and we have to find the solution. But for those that are really discharging extreme pollutants), we will act on it,” Antiporda said.
He also clarified that those piggeries and poultries that are polluting the rivers would be suspended, not cancelled, pending investigation and for them to come up with waste management measures.
He also assured the DENR’s move to suspend the operations of these erring poultry farms and piggeries will not affect the supply of pork and chicken in the market.
“But we need to take care of our environment and businessmen should shape up or else, they will be shut down,” he warned.|Saul Pa-a, PNA