Press Release
November 28, 2006


Senator Pia S. Cayetano today called on government authorities to waste no time in bringing to justice all those responsible for the illegal dumping of chemical wastes onto the Rosario River in Marilao, Bulacan which downed 60 individuals and caused the evacuation of some 3,000 residents in at least six barangays.

"These shameless polluters deserve to be jailed and must be held accountable with the full force of the law," said Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

She said the police should not be satisfied with the arrest of Lope Reyes, identified as the driver of the white tanker truck that discharged the chemicals in a creek and irrigation canal leading to the river at around 1:30 this morning.

"The police should also go after Reyes' companions, if he had any, at the time when the chemicals were discharged, as well as the owners and his superiors at the LPG tank cleaning facility where he worked, for it may have been his bosses who actually gave instructions to illegally get rid of the foul-smelling chemicals," she pointed out.

Cayetano, who co-chairs the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Clean Water Act, said the perpetrators could face up to P3 million in penalties and imprisonment of up to 10 years if proven guilty of committing gross violations of RA 9275 or "The Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004."

She added that the environment secretary may also recommend the closure or suspension of the LPG cleaning facility.

"This incident highlights the urgency for stricter enforcement of our environmental laws and the need to increase awareness on the effects of the pollutants to our water system," she stressed.

She called on local government leaders and residents of Marilao and adjoining towns to closely coordinate with environment officials to prevent similar incidents in the future, especially since the town of Marilao had long been identified as an area of concern by the US-based environmentalist group Blacksmith Institute because of widespread pollution in its water systems, particularly the Marilao River.

Cayetano herself has been working with Blacksmith Institute to set up modern waste treatment and pollution-reduction facilities for the different industries in Marilao and its adjoining towns as part of the "Clean the Marilao, Meycauayan and Obando River" Project.

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