Landfill threatens Cebu’s watershed

TALISAY CITY, Cebu- Residents and ecogroups are alarmed with the continuous operation of the city’s “sanitary” landfill inside a watershed area and the risks it pose to the environment and health of the people of Cebu.
The Talisay City Sanitary Landfill is located in Barangay Tapul and managed by the local government unit. It has been operational since 2005 even without an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) or any environmental permit.
The multi-sectoral group EcoWaste Coalition and National Environmental Action Team of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-NEAT) also hit the Talisay City government for violating the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or RA 9003 and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for its negligence to close down the illegal facility and halt the toxic contamination.
“The environment and health of the people should be the priority of our government. It is their mandate to ensure and uphold the rights of the people to safe drinking water, fertile land and clean air to breathe,” said Atty. Gloria Ramos, deputy chair of Visayas IBP-NEAT.
The Talisay City Sanitary Landfill, with an estimated area of more than 2 hectares is adjacent to the Mananga Watershed and located inside the Central Cebu Protected Landscape, a recently-declared protected area that is comprised of the five major watersheds of the province.
The dump facility caters mix municipal waste of Talisay City and the nearby municipality of Minglanilla. The local government is also planning to accommodate solid waste from other nearby towns.
Residents of Tapul and nearby barangays complain of foul smells coming from the dump facility and trucks carrying the garbage. Some residents are forced to stop drinking the water collected from spring wells adjacent to the landfill, after the water has developed a bad taste and rusty color after months of the dump’s operation.
“How come our city leaders allow this dirty facility and continuously put our health at risk? This sanitary landfill did not follow the law and aggravates the problem by contaminating our groundwater and aquifer,” laments Emman Larita, a resident of Talisay City.
According to the EcoWaste Coalition, landfills produce huge amounts of toxic leachate and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that has a 30% higher warming effect compared to carbon dioxide.
“Landfills are nothing but dumpsites under a different name. It is a toxic facility and supports the same corruption that breeds the collect-dump solid waste management system,” said Rei Panaligan, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.
The ecogroups also declared that landfills should not be built on critical areas and cite the closure of the San Mateo Landfill in Rizal province by the Supreme Court.
In its decision in December 13, 2005, the high court’s en banc nullified Proclamation 635 of former President Fidel Ramos to use a portion of 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.
“The government should stop building landfill projects and instead channel the funds to strengthen the implementation of ecological solid waste management in every barangay or village,” said Panaligan.
For more information, please call Emman Larita at 0906-4196684, Rei Panaligan at 0927-3209271 or the EcoWaste Coalition at (02) 9290376.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376