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Lawmaker snubs EMB hearings

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet—The Environment Management Bureau (EMB) in the  Cordillera region will rule next month on the administrative case against Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping, Jr, who has snubbed two scheduled hearings on the case this month, for illegal  excavation in watershed areas, a senior official said on Thursday.

Nestor Donaal, EMB clearance and permit division chief, said the next hearing on the case has been set for the second week of July and the agency will hand down its decision based on existing evidence and testimonies.

“We will resolve the matter even if the defendants refuse to file their respective comments on the charges filed against them,” Donaal said.

Aliping and three contractors—William Go, Romeo Aquino and Bernard Capuyan—have been accused of making excavation works and development in the Sto. Tomas watershed areas without applying for permit and an environmental compliance certificate.

A criminal case was also filed against the four men for illegal cutting of trees and stripping of the top soil inside a forest reservation. Aliping in his letter to EMB said he declined to comment on the administrative case because it could complicate the outcome of the criminal case filed against them in court.

Donaal said the administrative case carried a fine of P50,000 per day since Aliping, who was building a resort in the area,  started his project last April and the cost of implementing measures to prevent landslides and damage to the water springs in the area.

Mount Sto. Tomas, about 16 kms from Baguio City, has an elevation of about 2,256 meters above sea level. It was declared a watershed and forest reservation area on July 8, 1940.

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