For alleged violation of environmental law

PALOMPON, Leyte– Personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted an excavation at the premises of the DBSN Farm owned by Mayor Ramon Oñate of this town last Sunday (Jan. 21).

The excavation was by virtue of a search warrant issued by a regional trial court based here on January 16 with a 10-day validity period, covering 30 sites.

The order, signed by Executive Judge Georgina Perez, was made upon the application of the DENR regional office, headed by Regional Executive Director Lormelyn Claudio, claiming that the poultry farm violated RA 11038, otherwise known as the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, by dumping and burying ‘solid and hazardous wastes.’

The DENR also claims that the lot where DBSN was built lies along the Palompon Watershed Forest Reserve as designated under Presidential Proclamation 212.

The team dug up at least three sites chosen by the DENR-8 Enforcement Division and then collected water and soil samples for sampling.

This act of the DENR team was questioned by the lawyers of the DBSN as it filed a motion to quash the search warrant and suppress any gathered evidence, claiming that there had been a misrepresentation by the DENR in the application of the search warrant.

DBSN also maintained that the land in question is not a protected area covered under RA 11038 and two of the witnesses are not residents of Palompon nor employees of the farm for them to have personal knowledge of any dumping activities in the area.

“This is not part of a protected area. With the advent of the internet, you can browse at the website of the DENR, what are the list of protected areas in the whole country, in region. Is the municipality of Palompon or any part of the municipality of Palompon part of a protected area? No, you won’t see there, this is not a protected area,” Mayor Oňate emphasized.

In September 2023, Branch 17 of the Regional Trial Court in Palompon issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Claudio’s order to excavate in the same area.

The excavation on Sunday ended at about 4:30 pm as the DENR team was only able to dig five sites that were specified under the warrant and three sites allegedly outside the search warrant.

DBSN lawyers claimed that nothing was found on the excavation site within the areas specified in the search warrant but the DENR personnel was able to dig chicken manure, plastic bottles, and empty cans in areas outside the area cited on the search warrant.

The DENR-8 team also took water and soil samples from all eight areas that they dug.

DBSN is considered to be the largest single corporation in the Visayas and Mindanao with over 600 workers under its name. It produces 100,000 eggs per day that in turn could yield 150,000 kilograms of chicken meat.