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Organic fertilizer firm closed.

A manufacturer of organic fertilizer has been shut down by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for operating without an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

Vieva Green Growth Inc. (VGGI) was served a notice of violation on Aug. 18 by a team from the EMB and the city's environment and natural resources office (Cenro), said Lormelyn Claudio, the bureau's Central Luzon director.

The facility also failed to get a permit from the city government, having been operating in a residential area, city officials said.

Before its closure, residents were alarmed by the foul odor VGGI facility had been emitting from a two-hectare compound in Caballero village. The property is owned by Maynard Cruz, husband of Leah Cruz, who heads the Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Vendors Association of the Philippines (Vieva).

In 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman investigated Vieva in connection with the spike in garlic prices from P80 to P300 per kilo that had been attributed to a cartel with links to former officials of the Department of Agriculture.

VGGI and Vieva have yet to issue a statement.

From the road, the VGGI facility appears like an ordinary farm planted with eggplants, ampalaya and corn. A tarpaulin describes the business as 'an organic nursery, research and demonstration farm.'

At the back, however, are mountains of rotting garlic and stacks of carbonized rice hull.

A VGGI employee, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, said the rotten garlic stocks served as fertilizer component. The carbonized rice hull was the fertilizer's brown, the source said.

Meat is a richer source of minerals for fertilizer, the source said, to explain the meat shipments.

The VGGI source denied reports that the facility was dumping garlic to manipulate market prices.

The office of the mayor inspected the VGGI compound on Aug. 10 to verify information from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) that six truckloads of meat were coming to the city, with VGGI as the alleged shipment consignee.

A city employee privy to the issue said the BAI tip was the first time the city government learned about VGGI's operations. The source asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 23, 2016
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