Charges Eyed vs. DPWH Bacolod & Edison Construction for Damaged Mangrove, Etc
A pro-environment group and an anti-graft and corruption organization are bent on filing several charges against government engineers and contractors involved in the cutting of mangrove trees, alleged irregularities, etc. involving the multi-million-peso flood control project at Gatuslao Extension between Barangays 1 and Mandalagan in Bacolod City.
Key officers of the two non-government organizations, both requesting temporary anonymity, yesterday told Negros Daily Bulletin (NDB) they have independently completed gathering data, filming the project site and documenting details behind the ongoing P148 million project under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Bacolod City District Engineering.Office and Edison Construction and Development.
“It is just a matter of a few days and we will file the cases,” they said.
“We are calling the attention of Bacolod Congressman Greg Gasataya to look into the matter because this project falls under his jurisdiction being a national government undertaking. The good congressman must act immediately against those responsible to spare the image of his name and his office,” they told NDB.
They said they will file complaints and charges before the Ombudsman, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Office of DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar, and the Office of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, against District Engr. Abraham Villareal, head of the Bacolod City District Engineering Office and some of his men, and against officials and men of Edison construction firm.
The absence of a billboard informing the public about the ongoing project is already a violation of existing law, they said, adding that they also discovered the “questionable participation” of some people “not originally involved in the project.”
They said, based on plans and documents they have gathered, the flood control project includes an access road connecting Barangays Banago, Mandalagan up to Eroreco area, and the diversion of a big part of the river to portions with century-old mangrove trees.
They also found out that not a single permit was given to cut or uproot the mangrove trees, “some of which were buried maybe to hide the destruction.”
The two groups also told NDB an officer from the local DENR assured them he will also look into this and can file separate charges.
They said they will furnish NDB with their complaints after filing with appropriate agencies.
A concerned citizen who persistently urged NDB to come with him to the project site, thanked the two groups for having documented what were happening at the site.
He said he decided to seek media’s help as affected squatters in the project site were “forcibly ejected without court order and compensation”.
“I also wanted to expose what they have done to the thick mangrove tree plantation that is already as thin as my hair,” he said.* (Arman P. Toga)