By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The Victorias Milling Company, Inc. (VMC) denounced allegations thrown at its distillery plant in Manapla, Negros Occidental, calling them as “baseless” and “unsubstantiated.”
In a press statement, VMC President Minnie Chua said they have not violated any laws, contrary to claims of various groups that the distillery is operating illegally.
On the alleged pollution, the VMC noted that it has regularly and consistently budgeted and spent capital expenditures (Capex) to address environmental concerns, particularly the reported foul odor around the distillery since early 2020.
In fact, the company said that it has invested in modern structures and technological processes to eliminate the odor.
“We have invested over P200 million on these improvements to ensure we are environmentally compliant, and the residents can attest to this,” the VMC said.
Thus, “it is quite unbelievable that these pollution and foul odor claims from a few people have any basis while majority are satisfied with our efforts to make these improvements and rehabilitation we’ve introduced,” the firm said.
The VMC also noted that the distillery is covered with the proper Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for the operation of its vacuum distillation, dehydrator, and irrigation ponds, which are covered with the proper permits and licenses.
“That is why it is unfair for these people to accuse the Mayor’s office and all concerned government agencies for siding with us when we are doing our part in following due process and complying with the necessary regulatory and reportorial requirements,” Chua said.
The VMC also stressed that it has been conducting tree planting activities in areas surrounding the industrial and natural polishing lagoons and aeration ponds to serve as natural air purifiers.
It also helped establish the multi-partite monitoring team (MMT) with the local government units (LGUs) of Manapla and Cadiz last year, involving government officials, environmental agencies, health experts and members of the communities to work hand-in-hand in preserving the environment.
“While this is no longer a requirement by the EMB, VMC believes this will set up a proper venue for community members to raise and resolve issues or complaints immediately with the representative government officials and agencies,” the firm said.
Chua said that their critics have been issued invitation to attend these meetings so they can air their concerns, but they opted to issue baseless claims instead which made the firm suspect their motives.
Nevertheless, VMC remains committed to protect the environment and create value to the communities where it operates.
The VMC also dismissed the accusation on the alleged land grabbing, claiming that certain areas in Manapla were zoned as commercial or industrial by proper authorities before the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) law took effect in 1988, and this includes the VMC’s distillery.
“So as ordered by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2017 and 2019, the land where the VMC Manapla distillery is located has been ordered exempted from CARP,” the firm said.
The company said there is no truth in the statement that the distillery is encroaching on other people’s properties, nor is there any truth that VMC has received any payment from Land Bank for said properties.
The VMC also emphasized that the firm is a corporation duly organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the Republic of the Philippines.
As part of the entire VMC business operation, the VMC Distillery – Alcohol Bioethanol is not a separate entity and is sanctioned by the Primary and Secondary Purposes of the Amended Articles of Incorporation of VMC which has been duly approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and, as such, was legitimately granted a Business Permit by the Municipality of Manapla.
“We are confident that the law is behind us because we have always been in good faith in complying with all governing laws and bodies concerned in our operations,” the VMC said, as they sincerely hope this puts all issues to rest.