Grassroots Citizens Hit Dumping in Sierra Madre

Quezon City. Grassroots citizens have banded together to halt the unchecked dumping of trash in the provinces along the Sierra Madre biodiversity corridor.

Eighty participants from some 30 groups of the two-day “Save the Sierra Madre Summit” held last week in Novaliches, Quezon City vowed to keep the lush mountains that extend over the provinces of Quezon, Rizal, Bulacan, Aurora, Qurino, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela up to Cagayan free of horrendous dumpsites.

In a resolution that was unanimously adopted, the Save the Sierra Madre Network (SSMN) slammed the dumping in Sierra Madre as “outright rape of the forest ecosystem” akin to the unbridled logging, mining and land conversion in the vast area.

“We believe that Sierra Madre is a living monument of life and that every citizen and community has the duty to resist any plan to turn it into a graveyard of garbage,” the participants declared.

“Regardless of how they are called, the siting and operation of dumpsites in Sierra Madre is like a death sentence that will destroy the integrity of the forest, her rich biodiversity and her capacity to support sustainable development,” they said.

The latest available data from the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission show the existence of open dumpsites, controlled dumpsites and “sanitary” landfills in the Sierra Madre provinces.

On the whole, there are 45 open dumpsites, 21 controlled dumpsites and 7 “sanitary” landfills in the nine provinces.

“Grassroots citizens who care for Sierra Madre refused to go along with the government-authorized push for landfills. We hope to pull off more campaign victories for Mother Earth with this propitious alliance with the SSMN,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Among the most controversial facilities that have caught the ire of the EcoWaste Coalition, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Tao and the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, include the “sanitary” landfills situated in Norzagaray and the City of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan, and those in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) and San Mateo, Rizal.

The Summit participants resolved to ask the local and national governments to carry out the following to protect the air, water, soil and the entire Sierra Madre:

1. Shut down, clean up and rehabilitate all the dumpsites.

2. Stop to use of destructive and polluting waste technologies, including landfills, incinerators and co-processing of waste in cement kilns.

3. Enforce the ecological management of discards sans dumping and burning.

They further urged the authorities not to use public funds for the collection and dumping of trash into the Sierra Madre.

“Instead, we call upon the government to earmark public funds for popular education and mobilization on waste prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling and composting in line with the Zero Waste approach to solve our stinking garbage woes.”