EcoGroups Condemn Continuous Waste Dumping in Marikina-San Mateo River

San Mateo, Rizal – Ecogroups condemned the continuous inaction of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza and Marikina City Mayor Marides Fernando to stop the dumping of silt, thrash and other post-Ondoy disaster debris at the Nangka River, a major tributary of the Marikina River.

“As days go by, more and more debris collected in Marikina City are being dumped in the river resulting in further siltation and blocking of the river’s waters. The inactions of Secretary Atienza and Mayor Fernando could result to the loss of more lives in the event that Ramil or other typhoons hit Metro Manila. The waste dumping in Nangka River must be stopped!,” said Noli Abinales of Buklod Tao, a community-based disaster preparedness and response group based in San Mateo, Rizal.

Located in the boundary of Barangay Nangka in Marikina City and Barangay Banaba of San Mateo, the Nangka River overflowed during the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy and families living along its banks and adjacent areas were heavily affected. Many of the houses along the riverbanks were washed away by the strong current while the remaining houses were covered in mud and silt.

Last October 12, the EcoWaste Coalition wrote a letter to Atienza, Fernando and Barangay Nangka chief Philip Urrutia requesting immediate action to stop the dumping of debris in the said river. The group, together with Greenpeace and Buklod Tao, also installed huge banners on the dumping site last October 16, reminding the said government officials to protect the river instead of turning it into a dumpsite.

But as of October 18, trucks with “MMDA” banners, continued with its dumping operations in the Marikina side of the river while a bulldozer pushed all the debris towards the river.

“Common sense dictates that water bodies such as rivers or lakes are not waste disposal areas. It is an important ecosystem, our source of clean water and provide livelihood for many poor communities. The best way to prevent disaster is to ensure that it will not happen and our waterways must remain free of any debris or garbage,” said Rei Panaligan of EcoWaste Coalition.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and Clean Water Act prohibits dumping of garbage in rivers and other waterways.

“We who are living at the peripheral communities of huge cities such as Metro Manila and Marikina City are also endowed with environmental rights, rights to safety and security, same as the rights of those who live in the cit. Secretary Atienza and Mayor Fernando should stop toying with the lives of the people and act immediately to ensure that a disaster this magnitude should not happen again,” said Abinales.