To express their agony and grief over the ruling that allowed the resumption of the construction and operation of the Obando Sanitary Landfill, members of the EcoWaste Coalition, Obando Kami ay Para sa Iyo (OKAPI) and other Obandeños, picketed the CA carrying a symbolic coffin to plead for environmental justice.
Donned in mourning garments, black veils with clinging rubbish, and carrying lighted candles, the groups portrayed the agonizing situation the CA decision has brought to the people of Obando and the environment.
“We are here to show the CA the sort of death verdict it has imposed upon our people and the environment,” said Emineth Bartolome of OKAPI, who lamented that “the landfill will trash the fishing communities, damage the people’s livelihood, harm the remaining mangroves and wildlife and spoil an area rich in history.”
“With due respect to the CA, we find it hard to accept how dumping of garbage in a waste facility in a seaside barangay of Obando and the destruction of a mangrove forest can help clean up Manila Bay as the decision stated,” she added.
For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition said, “we sympathize with the people of Obando knowing full well the injustice and utter lack of ethics and morality in hauling tons of daily garbage from big cities and dumping the same into the waters that served as source of living and life of a small town, simply because they lack power to resist this.”
Since construction and cutting of mangroves began in the landfill site, activism in Obando has been raging, prompting concerned citizens to petition the Supreme Court in October 2011 to issue a writ of kalikasan, which the court granted in February 2012.
The petitioners believed that the construction of a landfill in the Obando River would cause extensive damage not only to the town, but to adjoining municipalities and the Manila Bay in general. The petitioners also sought to prevent the destruction of mangrove forests in the area.
The groups noted that the recent CA decision junking the petition in favor of the controversial project reinforced the anti-Obando Landfill sentiments and the accompanying movements in Obando that go in various names, such as No to Obando Landfill or simply NOLF, Save Obando, and OKAPI, now a community organization.
“Through renewed activism against the landfill among the people of Obando, with support from environmentalists elsewhere, we hope to convince the court to hear the affected communities, both vocal and silent, and reconsider its decision,” Bartolome said.
The CA ruling, issued on 29 August, claimed that the ill-sited landfill in the small historical town of Obando, bordering Manila Bay “will significantly facilitate the clean-up of Manila Bay, in direct response to the SC’s continuing mandamus.”
“No amount of twisting ones logic would lead to such a fantastic claim that barging in garbage from Manila to a landfill in Obando will help in the rehabilitation and clean-up of Manila Bay,” Lucero snapped.
“If they say they will safely store all these garbage in a lined landfill, take it from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says that all landfills eventually will leak! Imagine the havoc it would cause!” she exclaimed in conclusion.
“EPA says all landfills leak, even those using best available liners”: