Tuesday, January 05, 2010

One of RP's largest sardine canning factories ordered close in Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 5, 2010) – One of the Philippines’ largest sardine canning factories was ordered close after it failed to comply with the provisions of the Clean Water Act, officials said Tuesday.

Allan de Gala, regional director of the Environment Management Bureau in Western Mindanao, said two factories owned by the Mega Fishing Corporation in Zamboanga City were ordered closed December 31.

“The factories have failed to comply with the provisions of the Clean Water Act and its two factories in Zamboanga City were ordered closed. It now depends on the factories how quick they would comply with the law so they can again operate,” De Gala told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from his office in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province.

The Mega Fishing Corporation is the maker of Mega Sardines which are being imported to more than 20 countries. It was the first time the factories were ordered closed.

De Gala said the order was issued last month by the Pollution Adjudication Board after the factories’ waste water treatment facility failed to meet the standards set by the government to prevent pollution.

The Mega Fishing Corporation supplies 80% of raw materials for various canning companies both in Metro Manila and Zamboanga. It owns seven sets of commercial deep-sea purse seines totaling 55 fishing vessels. Furthermore, MFC has its own 175 meters marginal Warf, dry-docking and repair facilities; a 360-ton ice plant which is considered as the biggest in Mindanao, and 600 metric tons cold storage plant. And also a modern steam dry fishmeal plant and high-tech sardines canning plant, which are all located in Zamboanga City.

Mega Sardines was awarded by numerous prestigious award giving bodies as the “Most Outstanding Sardines Brand” the past years. It was also endorsed by Filipino actor Cesar Montano in several television commercials.

De Gala said the closure order was supposed to have been carried out earlier, but they allowed the factories to finish their inventories. He said they are also monitoring other canning factories in Zamboanga City, including oil mills and other industrial firms.

“We cannot do anything here, but to enforce the law, especially the Clean Water Act or Republic Act No. 9275. We are monitoring all factories and industrial plants not only in Zamboanga City, but the whole of Western Mindanao,” De Gala said.

It was unknown whether the Mega Sardines were also fined or not. Factory executives were not immediately available to make a statement, but a security guard said there was no one to talk about the closure order. “No one is here. We are closed,” he said.

The firm’s William Tiu Lim is the President and CEO of the Mega Fishing Corporation.

Last year, several companies in Regions 7, 9 and the National Capital Region, including SM Megamall were ordered by the Pollution Adjudication Board to pay fines amounting to P9.7 million for violating the provisions of the Philippines Clean Water Act.

Among those fined were SM Megamall buildings A and B - P5.1 million; Euro Swiss Foods Incorporated - P1.8 million; White House Oil Mill and Soap factory - P1.06 million; Rhikio Southeast Asia Incorporated - P1.03 million and Profoods International - P810,000. (Mindanao Examiner)

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