DAGUPAN CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) — The rift between the 70th Infantry Battalion of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and the municipality of Binmaley widened when two Army officers were declared persona non grata by the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Binmaley town.
Declared persona non grata in a resolution passed by the Binmaley SB were Lt. Colonel Edgardo Batenga, commanding officer of the 70th IB, 7th Infantry Division, and Capt. Laurencio Panit Jr., company commander, based in Camp Andres Malong Army Reservation located in Barangay San Isidro Norte, Binmaley.
This was after Batenga did not honor the invitation extended to him three times by the SB which was looking into the action of the Army in asking the PENRO to stop the municipal government from further dumping of garbage into parts of the 19-hectare Army reservation.
Capt. Panit admitted during the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkasters sa Pilipinas (KBP) forum in Dagupan on Thursday that it was he who attended the first time when Colonel Batenga was invited, but members of the SB were not satisfied and said they wanted Batenga’s presence.
The second time around, Batenga ignored the invitation which enraged members of ths SB more, and so, he was sent another invitation and when he again refused, the town’s legislative body passed a resolution declaring him and Capt. Panit persona non grata in Binmaley.
A report said Col. Batenga asked that he meets the officials of Binmaley to discuss the issue of dumping of garbage on a portion of the Andres Malong Army Reservation in a neutral place and not at the SB session hall.
Department of Interior and Local Government Provincial Director Reggie Colisao said a persona non grata resolution is merely an expression of sentiment of the legislative body.
Batenga maintained that the resolution of the SB declaring him and Panit as persona non grata, which he said was done sans due peocess, stemmed from their complaint before the PENRO accusing the municipal government headed by Mayor Simplicio Rosario of serious violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste and Ecological Act and not his refusal to appear before the SB.
As a result of their complaint, PENRO Chief Leduina Co issued an order stopping the municipality from further dumping garbage inside the military reservation.
At the same time, Panit said before the KBP forum that although Binmaley is no longer dumping garbage in the military reservation, it did not remove the mountains of decaying matters they left at the site, but merely covered them with beach sand.
The municipality of Binmaley was earlier ordered by PENRO to remove the garbage and restore ecological balance in the area. (PNA)