Green Groups Denounce Death Threats against Zero Waste Advocates

Environmental and health justice groups today condemned “in the strongest possible terms” death threats against Zero Waste advocates opposed to the operation of landfills off Manila Bay.

Groups led by the EcoWaste Coalition, an independent and nonprofit network of over 125 organizations, denounced the threats sent via text messages and mobile calls from anonymous sources to Rey Palacio and his wife Evangeline, warning the couple and their 10-year old daughter of bodily harm. Palacio is project staff of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The dastardly death threats apparently stemmed from the opposition made by the EcoWaste Coalition against the landfill construction by Eco Shield Development Corp. in the fishing village of Salambao in Obando, Bulacan.

The group had also opposed the operation of other waste disposal facilities within the Manila Bay area such as the Navotas Sanitary Landfill, which is run by the Philippine Ecology Systems Corp.

The Palacios most recently received a barrage of seven text messages on August 17, threatening them of physical harm, according to sworn statements filed at the Quezon City Police District (Quezon City Hall) and the Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (Camp Crame).

“We denounce in the strongest possible terms these devious death threats against our colleague Rey and his family, which are meant to stifle legitimate opposition against problematic landfill projects such as those situated in Obando and other critical areas off Manila Bay,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The EcoWaste Coalition stands by our principled objection against waste disposal facilities that pose hazards to health and the environment, and undermine efforts toward real solutions,” reiterated Romy Hidalgo of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Dumpsites/Landfills.

“No less than the Supreme Court has ordered the clean-up of tons of refuse and garbage deposited in Manila Bay. Constructing landfills in Obando and other areas along Manila Bay directly contravenes the Supreme Court’s decision and is a patent violation of Republic Act 9003 that bans landfills in environmentally-sensitive areas such as sources of water,” added Atty. Amang Mejia, Legal Counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition in March 2011 urged Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to intervene and order the construction of the Eco Shield landfill to stop.

The group had also asked the municipal government led by Obando Mayor Orencio Gabriel to rescind Municipal Resolution Number 102 giving Eco Shield the authority to construct a 44-hectare landfill in Barangay Salambao.

Opposition to landfill projects in Bulacan has been escalating, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

Responding to persistent complaints, Rep. Joselito “Jon-jon” Mendoza, from the 3rd District of Bulacan, has called for a congressional inquiry to determine the circumstances and safety of completed or planned sanitary landfills in Doña Remedios Trinidad , Norzagaray, Obando and San Jose del Monte City.

Early this year, 140 priests, 105 religious and 132 parish and school leaders had signed a “statement of opposition” to the construction and operation of any landfill in Bulacan province.