City legislators are seeking legal action against what appeared to be illegal arrests made by a Manila team of the National Bureau of Investigation who arrested nine garbage workers at the Candau-ay dumpsite October 3, despite a DENR — approved Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan now in progress by the City Government.
Lawyer-members of the city council to include councilors Edgar Lentorio Jr., Michael Bandal, Joe Kenneth Arbas, Karissa Faye Tolentino-Maxino and Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova and the rest of the members of the august body were unanimous that the nine NBI Agents, headed by one Atty. Czar Eric Nuqui, should be impleaded in the complaints filed against the lowly employees of the city, the city mayor by inducement and the councilors by indispensable cooperation, Bandal pointed out.
Councilor Tolentino stressed a resolution of condemnation is merely an opinion and sentiment of the city council with no legal effect. It would have been best for the city to call for an investigation for possible administrative and criminal sanctions. She said the NBI operatives could just be doing their job but in excess of their authority.
The Dumaguete City council has condemned the actions of agents of the National Bureau of Investgation NBI’s Environmental Crime Division team from Manila, during its regular session Wednesday after an incident where 10 employees of the city government were arrested by the NBI Manila team, while performing their regular jobs as garbage collectors and drivers at the garbage dumpsite in Candau-ay.
Basically, the city officialdom and constituency are upset and disappointed with the actions of the Manila- NBI operatives which they considered as highly irregular and even violative of the human rights and constitutional rights of the employees.
Six councillors- lawyers in the City Council said the arrest was illegal because it the warrantless arrest had no basis, and those arrested were not appraised of their Constitutional rights. There was also show of excessive force. A gun was also fired to sow fear among the garbage workers who were arrested in the Candau-ay dumpsite.
City Mayor Felipe Remollo concurred in a separate interview.
Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova said the actions of the NBI environmental crime division in Manila is not only designed to embarrass the present administration but an attack against 150,000 Dumaguegtenos, who will eventually suffer the consequences of their action.
Cordova cannot imagine what will happen when 60-80 tons of garbage for just one day will not be collected because those assigned will not do the job for fear of being arrested and charged by the NBI.
The city council conveyed their disappointment and condemnation against the NBI operatives for just coming here and treating the garbage problem as a simple matter, without investigating that a safe closure and rehabilitation plan had been approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 7.
Cordova said even if President Duterte comes and ordered its closure, it cant be done on the spot, there are phases to be followed with several conditions required in every phase. Council members stressed uncollected garbage becomes a bigger problem due to a possible spread of diseases especially with the onset of the rainy season. Whoever is responsible to the actions of the NBI agents should realize that it is not only punishing the present administration but exposing not only residents of Dumaguete but include the visitors to health problems, Cordova pointed out.
The presiding council officer said this is not a blame game, but putting everything in context that the previous administrations find it hard to comply with provisions of RA 9003 because no local government unit or barangay would agree to host garbage until the present administration found and bought a lot intended for a sanitary landfill, Cordova added. He said construction of a material recovery facilitry building is going on in Candau-ay and it has pending applications for an environmental compliance certificate for the establishment of a Sanitary Landfill. But in the meantime, it continues to operate a “controlled” dumpsite.
The presiding officer said the city council perfectly understands the compartmentalization of the NBI operations to avoid risk of compromise. However, it is still best that they coordinate with the locals to make sure their operations will not go overboard.
Pictures during the operation showed some of the agents with short firearms tucked on their waists including what seems to be a rifle, the Miranda doctrines were not recited to all those arrested, somebody fired a warning shot with the use of a rifle, and that the NBI agents were on board a white van that is sporting a plate number that is not assigned to the vehicle.
Councilor Karissa Faye Tolentino-Maxino said the plate number OV 1639 of the white van used by the NBI agents is registered to a red Honda XRM motorcycle together with another white van that were recorded in the CCTV footage at the Rizal boulevard. The other white van with plate number FAG 8706 is a Nissan vehicle registered to a private individual.
Councilor Arbas said if this can happen to a local government unit that has power, the NBI can always do this to anybody who don’t have power urging the legal team of the city to study possible criminal and administrative charges and even calls for a Senate inquiry because the operating unit is from NBI Manila. /// jrg