Groups urged to protect, not to dump in Cavite’s protected area

22 October, 2007. Quezon City, Philippines- Ecogroups call on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) that its regional office gave to Cavite sanitary landfill to be built within Mt. Palay-palay/Mataas na Gulod National Park, the province’s biggest protected area which is teeming with unique biodiversity and high endemism of wildlife.

The said sanitary landfill will be built in barangay Sapang in Ternate, Cavite and is within the protected zone of Mt. Palay-Palay, which has been declared as a protected area by virtue of Proclamation 1594 on October 1976.
Environsave Incorporated, the landfill proponent, managed to secure an ECC for the project last September 26, 2007 despite the huge opposition from the residents of Ternate, Cavite and different zero waste advocates. The said project is also being pushed by Cavite Governor Ayong Maliksi and will serve, initially, as the dumping ground of municipal wastes of the province. Five quarry sites have already been operating inside the protected area with a permit from the provincial government.
“It is irresponsible to put a hazardous facility like a sanitary landfill in an area that in the first place should be a priority for conservation. The forests of Mt. Palay-palay and Mataas na Gulod have been the major water source of thousands of generations of Caviteños and hosts some of the magnificent natural treasures of our country that we cannot find anywhere else in the world,” said Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of the public network Cavite Green Coalition (CGC).
Dressed as Rufous Hornbills, the residents and activists from the CGC and EcoWaste Coalition staged a creative protest outside of the DENR to call the department to junk the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of the project and to uphold and protect the rich biodiversity of Cavite. “Sanitary landfills will contaminate the huge water reservoir of the Mt. Palay-palay forest that provides clean water to the people of Ternate and many parts of Cavite. Also the hazardous releases of the landfill such as leachate and toxic fumes will have a great impact in the flora and fauna of the area. This toxic facility must be stopped!” said Tolentino.
A resident of Mt. Palay-palay, the Rufous hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax), locally known as kalaw, is classified as near threatened and is listed in the red list of threatened species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Mt. Palay-palay Natural Park also hosts at least 123 species of wildlife. Thirty one percent (31%) of these are endangered or threatened such as the Luzon Bleeding Heart, Philippine Falcon, Blue Naped Parrot, Philippine Woodland Frog etc. (1)
The area’s rich biodiversity concentration also prompted the Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the DENR to classify Mt. Palay-palay as biologically important and a conservation priority area (2).
Last October 18, more than 2,000 citizens of Ternate went to the streets to denounce the proposed sanitary landfill to be built in their town.
“We do not need to build additional landfills and spend meager public funds to finance hazardous facilities such as landfills. Our government officials should stop focusing their attention on convincing poor communities to be their dumping ground. Instead, they should concentrate their efforts on how to strengthen and assist their barangays to do ecological solid waste management as defined in our law,” said Rei Panaligan, coordinator of the Ecological Waste Coalition.
The ecogroups also declared that landfills should not be built on critical areas and cited the closure of the San Mateo Landfill in Rizal province by the Supreme Court.
In its decision in December 13, 2005, the high court en banc nullified Proclamation 635 of former President Fidel Ramos to use a portion of the Marikina Watershed as a sanitary landfill for Metro Manila. Instead, the court highlighted RA 9003 which orders the closure of dumps and landfills located within an aquifer, groundwater reservoir and watershed area.
“All existing so-called sanitary landfills here in the country violate the law by catering to mixed wastes and have become toxic generators, producing leachate that seep into the groundwater or methane gas that aggravates the climate change,” said Panaligan.

1: Mt. Palaypalay Profile: http://calabarzon.denr.gov.ph/real/PAsite/palaypalay.html
2: Phil Biodiversity Conservation Priorities- Final Report by DENR-PAWB, CIPHIL and BCP-UP CIQS.
EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St. Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376