City. In commemoration of the 13th year of the dreadful Payatas dumpsite
tragedy that buried alive and killed hundreds of people, the EcoWaste
Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, pressed for stricter implementation
of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, specifically
calling on President Benigno Aquino to proclaim his government’s commitment to
Zero Waste in his next State of the Nation Address (SONA).
and shanties of on-site residents and transient waste pickers at the height of
torrential rains brought about by successive typhoons “Ditang” and Edeng,”
burying alive and killing over 300 people.
“After all these years, justice remains elusive to the tragedy’s victims and
their surviving relatives. The continuing operation of the dumpsite, masquerading
as a ‘sanitary’ landfill thirteen years since the disaster, ridicules the death
of the victims and derides the indescribable sorrow of their loved ones,” said Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo, NGO Representative, National
Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).
The group reiterates their call for the immediate closure of open dumps as specified
under R.A. 9003, requiring that all open and controlled dumps should have been
closed by February 2004 and February 2006, respectively. The Payatas dumpsite
was closed as a result of the tragedy but was reopened again and to this day,
it continues to operate as a ‘sanitary’ landfill.
illegal open and controlled dumpsites continue to exist despite the clear
provision of the law prohibiting their operations, to the dismay of eco groups
pushing for the closure of these perilous disposal facilities.
As of 2012, data obtained from NSWMC’s website enumerate 606 open and 309 controlled
dumpsites. In addition, the country has 44 ‘sanitary’ landfills,
with 69 more undergoing construction.
Citing studies made by the US Environmental Protection Agency that landfill
liners are not fully impermeable, Comm. Hidalgo expressed concern that these
dumps and landfills nationwide continue to release toxic fumes and leachate to
the environment containing health-damaging infectious pathogens and hazardous
chemicals such as dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants.
“We call on President Aquino to highlight the government’s commitment to the
genuine implementation of R.A. 9003 in his upcoming SONA, stop the seeming
dependence on so-called sanitary landfills and waste- to-energy incinerators
as backbone of the country’s waste management strategy and proclaim Zero
Waste as the way to go,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator of the
from dumpsite closure, RA 9003 further directs the establishment of material
recovery facilities (MRFs), also known as ecology centers, in every barangay or
cluster of barangays to promote and support waste prevention and reduction at
addition, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public that waste prevention and
reduction starts at home as the group reiterates the need for everyone to
consume responsibly, segregate discards at source and to reuse and recycle
as much as possible to cut the volume of residual waste for disposal.
“We must do our part to end our wasteful habits and uncaring treatment of the
environment, and learn our valuable lessons from the Payatas tragedy and
similar events to avoid such deadly incidents from happening again. Remember
that as we keep on throwing away garbage, we become contributors to these kinds
of disasters,” Lucero added.
On April 19, 2013, an estimated 300,000 metric tons of trash reportedly collapsed
from the 5-month inactive portion of the Rizal Provincial Sanitary Landfill
that buried and killed four maintenance personnel.
In 2011, two major garbage slides occurred in Baguio City on August 27 at the
Irisan dumpsite that killed five people and in Olongapo City on September 27 at
Barangay New Cabalan that claimed three lives, the group said.