Ombudsman suspends Tabaco City mayor

By Mar Serrano

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Office of the Ombudsman has issued another suspension order, this time against Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro of Tabaco City, a top official of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Tuesday.

The Ombudsman suspended Luistro due to her failure to comply with an order to close an open dump site operated by the city government despite the earlier warning it has issued, Eloisa Pastor, DILG regional director said.

The Environmental Team of the Environmental Ombudsman Program slapped a one-year suspension on Luistro after finding her liable for gross neglect of duty.

The order also carries a directive for her to immediately close and rehabilitate; and desist from establishing an open dumpsite in Barangay San Antonio in Tabaco City.

Luistro was reportedly in Manila on official leave of absence when the suspension order was served on Tuesday.

In a phone interview, she described the Ombudsman suspension order as unmeritorious, saying that she already complied with the order to close the open dump site on March 17 last year.

“When I received the order on March 2015 for us to close the three-hectare open dumpsite, I immediately scouted for an alternative area where we can build a sanitary landfill as compliance to the order," she said.

Luistro said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) that is tasked to monitor the compliance has prepared a quarterly report regarding their adherence to the order.

She said a five-hectare land in Barangay Marirok in Tabaco City has been acquired by the local government and it is currently in the process of bidding for the setting up of a sanitary landfill.

When asked what legal remedy she intended to do, Luistro said she has 10 days to at least file two legal motions with the Ombudsman and the Court of Appeals (CA).

She said she would ask the Ombudsman to reconsider the merits of the decision to suspend her for one year, taking into consideration the action she took in closing the open dumpsite in March 2017.

As for the Court of Appeals, she said she would request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) questioning the procedure of execution of the suspension order.

Last July, the Ombudsman also slapped a suspension order on two Albay town mayors and several local officials for their failure to comply with the proper waste disposal program under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Management Act of 2000.

Affected by the order were local officials, who assumed their elective post in 2013 to 2016 but were operating and maintaining open dumpsite in their respective areas.

In an earlier report, six Albay local government units were among the 50 towns and cities across the country that belong to the first batch of LGUs that have been assessed and validated by the NSWC to be non-compliant with the ecological solid waste management act despite the repeated warnings.

The report said the six were included in the first batch advised to comply with the law or face administrative and criminal charges.

The commission assessment found out that the five towns and a city in Albay violated the solid waste management act by using open dump sites in their waste disposals; and despite the warnings, they failed to close these facilities as required by law.

Only Legazpi City government operates a solid waste disposal landfill in the entire Bicol region, the report said. (PNA)