STA. ROSA, Nueva Ecija – Villagers here are plagued by the stench of garlic and onion. The unsold bulbs were allegedly dumped indiscriminately in a vacant space in Barangay La Fuente by a farmers’ group linked to controversial agricultural importer Leah Cruz.
Rene Sebastian, village chair, said their place stinks as supposed members of Magtutumana ng Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Cooperative, “play hide and seek with us” in dumping garlic, onions and other vegetables that rot in the market.
The cooperative was identified as one of 36 farmers’ groups and partners of Vegetables Importers, Exporters and Vendors Association of the Philippines (VIEVA) nationwide. VIEVA is chaired by Cruz, who was one of the respondents in a case filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption before the Department of Justice over alleged cartel and monopoly in the importation of garlic and onions.
The respondents included Clarito Barron, director of the Bureau of Plant and Industry and Luben Marasigan, head of the BPI’s quarantine service. Sebastian said the cooperative managed by a certain June Nuñez used to produce organic fertilizer out of the rotting vegetables in a facility established inside a lot reportedly owned by Cruz.
But things changed after the facility was damaged by Typhoon Santi in October last year. Sebastian presented on Monday to the town council, headed by Vice Mayor Tony Romero, a letter he submitted to the municipal sanitary office way back Feb. 5, 2014, seeking help to put an end to their problem.
“An gaming lugar dito sa Sitio Tumana, Barangay La Fuente ay nagiging imbakan o tapunan ng mga bulok na sibuyas, bawang at iba pang basura na nagdudulot ng masama at mabahong amoy na nagiging dahilan ng pagkakasakit ng mga naninirahan dito lalo na ng mga bata,” Sebastian said in letter he addressed “to whom it may concern” but submitted to the sanitary office.
Maximo Domingo, municipal sanitation head, confirmed the sorry state of the place when he conducted an inspection the day after receiving Sebastian’s letter. But he was later told the dumping was stopped. “Inabutan ko po na talagang totoo na mabahong-mabaho dun sa lugar,” Domingo told the council. “Hindi ko po alam na nagbalik,” he added.
But Sebastian told the council that besides failing to correct the operation, the group has been dumping stinking agricultural products in places outside their compound. “Andun sa daanan ng mga tao, nakabunton dun yung mga sibuyas. Sinisilaban, nilalangaw,” he added.
Councilor Marcus Matias said the town council en banc will conduct through investigation of the complaint. He said they would conduct an ocular inspection of the place.