952 residents file case against Mayor Cortes

AROUND 952 residents in Barangay Labogon, Mandaue City, particularly in Sitio San Jose 1, filed a case for graft and corruption against Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes after the latter allegedly neglected their request to close a concrete batching plant that is said to be illegally operating and posing health risks to residents.

The case against Cortes for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, was filed at the Office of the Ombudsman on Oct. 17, 2022.

The complainants Ines Corbo Necesario and Julita O. Narte, both residents of Sitio San Jose 1, Barangay Labogon, Mandaue City, represented the 952 residents affected by the plant’s operations.

Asked to comment, City Administrator Jamaal James Calipayan said they had not received a copy of the Ombudsman complaint yet.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, Necesario said they first raised a petition about Suprea Phils. Development Corp. before the the City Planning Development Office during its initial construction on March 19, 2019.

She said the petition, which garnered about 509 signatories, stressed the fact that they were not informed properly about the plant’s establishment.

They also brought their complaint before the Labogon Barangay Council.

The batching plant located in Sitio San Jose 1 was the subject of their complaint as it undertakes concrete-cement mixing operations, which the citizens believed would create health risks, especially for those who live close to the firm’s perimeter.

Necesario further narrated that they also coordinated with Cortes, who then was newly elected as mayor in 2019, and had a technical conference regarding the matter.

She said Cortes assured them of help in addressing their concerns during that time.

She said they sought Cortes’ help again regarding the matter by sending him a letter on Feb. 24, 2020, but he had no response.

On Jan. 27 this year, she said the barangay council passed a resolution recommending that the City, through the office of the Mandaue City Environment and Natural Resources (MCENRO), City Legal Office, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Central Visayas, issue a cease and desist order to the company in response to their complaint.

Based on the pieces of evidence they gathered, they found out that the plant has been operating without a business permit and pending issuance of a sanitary permit from the City Health Office and an Environmental Certificate from MCENRO since 2021.

Apart from that, Necesario said many residents living near the establishment had begun suffering from pulmonary diseases because of the amount of dust released at the batching plant.

(For the full story, get a copy of the SunStar Cebu newspaper through circulation.sunstar@gmail.com, 0915 441 0419, 0917 625 5392 or 0915 441 0422.)