The City of Victorias in Negros Occidental has urged the management of Victorias Milling Co. (VMC), the country's largest producer of refined sugar, to expedite actions to address the stench caused by the molasses spill incident in the sugar refinery on May 5. The call was led by Councilor Dino Acuña, chair of the committee on natural resources, environmental protection, and ecology, after representatives of the VMC admitted during a legislative inquiry on Wednesday afternoon that it would take more than a month to implement the measures to stop the foul odor that has already affected 11 barangays in the city proper. 'Is there a way that you can lessen the one month and one week? Is it possible for you to take other measures to control the foul odor? It is plain to your eyes that you need to do something about this and one month and one week seems to be unacceptable to us, to the people of Victorias. You have to exert more effort to expedite the period,' he said. Acuña expressed the urgency to act on the environmental and health concerns to VMC legal officer Randolph Angel Tacuyan, pollution control officer Sandy Angeline Ng, and quality assurance/quality control officer Ellaine Muhal, who represented the management during the legislative inquiry held at the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) session hall. 'We are very serious with this issue. Indi gid namon ni gusto. Amo na gapangayo gid kami sang pasensya sa mga residente nga naapektuhan. (We don't not want this to happen, that's why we apologize to the affected residents). Our assurance is, our (VMC) board is very supportive of all the measures we are taking,' Tacuyan said. In a press statement, the city government said the VMC 'presented action plans and countermeasures to mitigate the impact and potential damage to the local community,' which include 'neutralizing the PH levels of the sugar refinery's waste and wastewater treatment plant that shall run for about one month and a week.' 'Both the VMC and the local government unit shall come up with collective recommendations and solutions to eliminate the environmental pollution and manage the potential public health hazard,' it added. In an earlier statement, Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez said the spill occurred when a molasses tank leaked, affecting the Malihaw River and the families residing in the villages near the sugar refinery. 'I feel that our ecological sustainability and preservation, and the welfare of our people should be our top priority,' he said. Benitez said the VMC management assured the city government they would extend assistance to the affected families, particularly those in Barangays VI-A, IX, and XIII.
Source: Philippines News Agency