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Consumer group asks High Court to stop burning cigarettes near La Mesa Dam

A former congressman yesterday filed a petition for writ of kalikasan before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to stop the concerned officials from destroying the 4.7 million confiscated packs of cigarettes that are being burned in Norzagaray, Bulacan near the La Mesa Dam watershed area.

In his petition, broadcaster Angelo Palmones, a former partylist lawmaker representing the consumer group Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan Inc., noted that the “state shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
“Petitioner Agham, on behalf of the residents of Davao and Bulacan and of all persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, respectfully pray of this Honorable Court to issue a writ of kalikasan within three days from the filing of this Petition a well as a Production Order and a Temporary Protection Order,” said Palmones in his petition filed yesterday.
Palmones noted that on March 6, 2017 officials of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and BIR confiscated 4.7 million packs of cigarettes owned by Mighty Corp., for allegedly being counterfeit.
A writ of kalikasan (nature) is a legal remedy under Philippine law for persons whose constitutional right to “a balanced and healthful ecology” is violated by an unlawful act or omission of a public official, employee, or private individual or entity.
“With the toxic substances present in the 4.7 million packs of cigarettes to be burned, it is highly possible that air, water and land resources will be contaminated, particularly the La Mesa Dam,” Palmones said.
He that there are more than 8,000 ingredients in a cigarette other than tobacco which contains nicotine, including 43 known carcinogenic compounds and 400 other toxins.
The writ is addressed to JTI who is currently the owner of Mighty Corp. represented by its general manager, Manos Koukourakis; Holcim Philippines Inc., represented by its chief executive officer, Sapna Sood; Department of Finance represented by its secretary, Carlos Dominguez; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) represented by its secretary, Roy Cimatu; and Bureau of Internal Revenue represented by its commissioner, Cesar Dulay.
Palmones said the manner of burning of some of the cigarette packs was illegal through the Holcim’s “co-processing” in Norzagaray, Bulacan which was not open to public and media scrutiny.
The former congressman said cigarettes packs were not acceptable for co-processing pursuant to DENR’s order because these contain asbestos, cyanide and radioactive wastes.
He also explained that the burning was done without the required environmental compliance certificate from the DENR.

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