Citizens score a victory vs polluter bus line

ENVIRONMENTAL political party Kalikasan Partylist lauded residents of Barangay Pinyahan in Quezon City, who recently scored a victory against bus company JAC Liner by being able to halt the construction of JAC’s parking lot and refueling stations in the barangay’s remaining green space.

“It is a sweet victory for us residents to finally wake up no longer exposed to the air and noise pollution cause by JAC Liner’s buses, previously parked so close to our homes. This is an affirmation that the people united in defense of our remaining forest areas in Metro Manila can overcome the pollutive and hazardous practices of irresponsible companies,” said Celerina Castro, an affected resident and coordinator of the Kalikasan Partylist – Brgy. Pinyahan QC Chapter.

Persistent lobbying efforts by the Kalikasan Party’s local chapter in Pinyahan finally pushed authorities to enforce JAC Liner’s collection of cease and desist orders, the cancellation of their environmental compliance certificate questionably issued by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and lack of legally acquired tree-cutting and other permits.

Residents and environmental advocates have opposed the illegal cutting of indigenous trees and pollutive activities of the bus line in the Callejon Makabayan Urban Forest in Brgy. Pinyahan. Foresters classified the Callejon Makabayan as an urban forest, defined as a collection of trees that have been able to survive the harsh urban conditions and provide vital ecosystem functions such as flood, wind and air pollution control. JAC’s activities have affected the health, safety and environment of the adjacent communities.

“We are now calling on the DENR and other concerned agencies to pursue the ecological restoration of the said urban forest, of which 3,000 square meters were affected by JAC Liner’s site development. We challenge them to push both JAC Liner and MERALCO (from which the forested lot was leased) to support Pinyahan residents’ wishes to rehabilitate and reforest the area,” said Castro.

“The next step is to weed out government officials instrumental to JAC Liner’s pursuit of illegal tree-cutting and pollutive activities. We are considering tapping the Environmental Ombudsman to challenge long-entrenched corrupt practices that have kept polluter companies in place,” she ended.

Castro and concerned residents are preparing to file cases at the Ombudsman against the officials who allowed JAC to pursue such activities. Kalikasan Partylist will look into the possibility of filing a separate case against the DENR to investigate the issuance of a tree-cutting permit.

The Office of the Environmental Ombudsman was reactivated only this year to monitor government officials’ compliance in implementing the country’s environmental laws and policies.

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