“Stop Payatas dump operation and expansion,” QC told

9 July 2015. Quezon City. A day before the 15th year commemoration of the ill-famed tragic Payatas trash slide, zero waste advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition and the Payatas-based Alyansa ng mga Samahang Nagkakaisa sa Payatas (ASNP) told the Quezon City government to stop the landfill’s operation and expansion.

Leonita Panoy, President of the ASNP, said in her own tongue that “Everyday tons and tons of mixed wastes are dumped in Payatas creating what is now a mountain of trash that lets out into the air and into our homes the stinking smell that we are very familiar with since it was still called an open dump.”

Panoy, better known in their community as Ka Nita, is one of the survivors of the disastrous Payatas trash slide in July 2000, which took almost 300 lives and rendered 300 more missing and thousands homeless.

“Our constant exposure to this mountain of garbage is giving us headaches, stomach aches, skin ailments, and diarrhea, among many other health issues,” she added.

Panoy also said that quarrying by the landfill contractor in the area to obtain soil cover had resulted in the cutting of more or less 150 trees adding to the degradation of the environment and increasing the risk of another trash slide, seeing that the country is now experiencing typhoons.

For his part, Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo, EcoWaste Coalition Steering Committee member and NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, said “If QC will only pursue honest ecological solid waste management aimed at genuine intensified waste diversion in all of its barangays, then we should see a decrease in the volume of waste entering Payatas dump, a.k.a. sanitary landfill. In that case, QC’s business would have to be on its closure and not expansion.”

“Waste diversion”, according to RA 9003, refers to “activities which reduce or eliminate the amount of solid waste from waste disposal facilities.”

“An increase in waste diversion rate; that’s what Quezon City should bear in mind for it is the intent of Republic Act 9003, known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” explained Hidalgo.

Section 20 of RA 9003 directs LGUs to increase waste diversion rate every 3 years from the initial 25% diversion rate during the first 5 years of the law’s implementation which took effect almost 15 years ago.

EcoWaste Coalition maintained that “Dumping, in whatever form will merely perpetuate the throwaway culture which even no other than Pope Francis abhors.”

“On the other hand, RA 9003 directs the country toward diversion of waste from disposal sites, which could be accomplished through waste avoidance and minimization, segregation at source, composting, reusing, recycling, and the listing and phasing out of non-environment-friendly products and packaging,” continued the coalition.

The Payatas dumpsite infamy grew to heights when on 10 July 2000, a wall of trash from the mountain of mixed garbage avalanched burying peoples and homes underneath the city’s refuse.

Since then, the dump was renamed controlled disposal facility. In recent years, QC government extended the disposal site and called it sanitary landfill.