Green advocates file complaint at pollution adjudication board against JAC Liner

RESIDENTS and environmental groups lodged a complaint today at the Pollution Adjudication Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-PAB) calling for a permanent closure of JAC Liner’s pollutive parking and construction operations in Brgy. Pinyahan, Quezon City. According to environmental political group Kalikasan Partylist, the operations are detrimental to public health and safety and have resulted in the illegal cutting of trees in one of Metro Manila’s few remaining urban forests.

“The JAC Liner expansion into the Callejon Makabayan Urban Forest lot is a hodge-podge of environmental hazards that include the daily guzzling of diesel fumes from the engine revolutions of buses numbering up to 20 at times and producing sustained noise levels that can cause hearing loss. Their series of tree-cutting operations have reportedly started to fell more than 25 trees in the past.  This has been followed by a recent removal of   an undisclosed number of trees from the 68 more they have designated for cutting,” said Ms. Frances Quimpo, secretary general of Kalikasan Partylist.

In an ocular inspection conducted by Kalikasan Partylist, initial findings confirmed the trees of Callejon Makabayan as an urban forest, capable of surviving in the harsh conditions of the city environment and providing valuable ecosystem services to adjacent communities, such as the sequestration of air pollutants and particulates, temperature and noise regulation, and the provision of habitat for wildlife.

“Should the total of 93 affected trees be completely bulldozed from the lot, this would mean annual loss of capacity to sequester an estimated  5,580 pounds of air pollutants and 69,750 gallons of storm water. Said trees also have a cooling effect similar to 930 air conditioners running continually. These trees have served as the community’s buffer from the pollution of EDSA, and now JAC Liner plans to replace it with a bustling parking lot of diesel guzzlers and noise producers in close proximity to residencies with children,” lamented Ms. Quimpo.

The complaint is bolstered by previous Cease and Desist Orders issued by the Q.C. Business Permits and License Office and the Q.C. Department of Building Official, dated December 20, 2011 and May 08, 2012, respectively It also cites a series of barangay resolutions by the Pinyahan Barangay Council opposing the pollutive and ecologically-destructive activities.

“It is clear that the business permit, environmental compliance certificate and tree-cutting permit secured by JAC Liner are patently irregular, given that no legitimate public consultation from us, affected land-title owners, was ever held.  There was also no barangay clearance  released for this business.  We  contest the 37 signatories that the company claims to  have consented to their operations. In spite the  series of barangay resolutions, residents’ petitions and later complaints, JAC Liner is still using the clearing in Callejon Makabayan as a parking lot emitting copious amounts of air and noise pollution into our homes, as early as 4:00 AM,” said Mrs. Shirley Castro, an affected resident and Brgy. Pinyahan coordinator of Kalikasan Partylist.

The complaint also cites the noise from incessant barking of JAC Liner’s training of bomb-sniffing dogs which disturbs the residents, and the fire hazard posed by the presence of Manila Electric Company’s transmission line in the area, where JAC Liner also plans to build three underground diesel storage tanks that will serve as a refilling station.

“It is unfortunate that despite the citizens’ efforts to document and testify to the illegal and pollutive activities of JAC Liner, operations are still continuing. We are setting up a neighborhood watch in our community, and we saw that back hoes have recently reappeared in the area as if no CDO on the construction is standing,” bewailed Ms. Castro.

“We are disappointed that environment secretary Ramon Paje’s office seems unable to stem the growing national phenomenon of urban tree-cutting, such as what happened in Baguio City. We challenge Secretary Paje to muster the political will he has to oppose these clear violations of environmental laws that is happening right under his nose. The Secretary boasts of his tree planting programs yet he has not lifted a finger  to preserve the precious few forests left in our urban landscapes,” added Ms. Quimpo.

The complaint letter signed by residents and groups including Kalikasan Partylist, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines and the Barangay Pinyahan Council is calling for an immediate investigation into the issue, the revocation of JAC Liner’s ECC and Tree-cutting Permit, and the permanent closure of their site development and utilization scheme.

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