Sheen made the statement in an interview with the Philippines News Agency Friday following the announcement by the Sorsogon City Council that it will file charges against the company and implead Sheen and other officials of the EMB-Bicol for negligence.
He confirmed that the waste water treatment facility of the PPC is not yet perfect and it is probably the reason why its waste water exceeded what is allowed by law based on the Clean Water Act of 2004.
Sheen said he hopes to have the validation report by next week if it will not be hampered by any supervening event.
He said the attempt to gather new water samples last Monday was stymied by the sudden downpour in the city and another attempt the following day was called off because the factory suddenly stopped operation.
The law imposes a penalty of not less than Php10,000 but not more than Php200,000 per day of violation and a separate fine of not less than Php50,000 and not more than Php100,000 per day of violation if the company fails to undertake clean-up operations with an imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than four years.
But the case has to be taken up by the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) which will recommend the fine and penalty to be imposed.
Sheen, however, clarified that the action of the EMB was not prompted by the threat of litigation but was based on the process being followed by the agency.
“We need to do a validation to strengthen the case and ensure that it will withstand even if challenged in a court of law,” he said.
Sheen said it is the right of any individual to seek redress of grievances and that he does not begrudge the city council for its decision should it indeed include EMB in the charge sheet.
He said they will answer the charges in the proper forum but urged the city council to consider the actions already taken by the EMB which could hardly be considered negligent.
Sheen stressed that the local government unit also has a big role in ensuring the protection of the environment and it has the power to immediately stop the operation of an offending company.
He explained that the nuisance, like the noise and the foul odor being emitted by the factory, which are also the subject of complaint by the residents, is no longer under the regulatory power of the EMB but under the LGU.
He also cited the alleged violation of the zoning ordinance wherein the factory was allowed to be located in an area classified as “institutional” instead of putting it in an “industrial” area.
“That alone is a ground for the LGU to immediately order the closure of the factory,” he pointed out.
Sheen said the EMB will continuously work with the local government, saying that they should be partners in the pursuit for a better environment.
Councilor Joven Laura, a member of the city council, had earlier announced that charges for damages will be filed against PPC next week and that they will seek at least Php50 million as indemnification for the environmental destruction being attributed to the company.(PNA)