“Under the principle of command responsibility, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, General Manager Edgardo Manda and Governor Casimiro Ynares III should be held accountable for the criminal act committed by the landfill operator against the environment,” Romeo Hidalgo of the Task Force Dumps/Landfill of the EcoWaste Coalition said.
“In the first place, the polluting waste disposal facility situated in an environmentally critical area should not have been built at all and given a controversial environmental compliance certificate,” Hidalgo stressed.
The Rizal provincial landfill is located inside a protected area under Proclamation1636, encompassing the mountains of Rizal, Laguna and Quezon. Protected areas are supposed to be protected from destructive and polluting activities that can badly affect the biodiversity.
The dumping of toxic leachate into the Montalban River, which was caught on video and later aired in major TV programs, is a rock-solid indictment of landfilling as a failed technology for managing discards, according to the EcoWaste Coalition.
“What we saw on TV is a willful intent on the part of the landfill operator to circumvent the law that requires it to put in place a functional leachate treatment system to mitigate potential contamination of the soil and the surface and ground water,” the EcoWaste Coalition observed.
A 2004 study on solid waste management in Metro Manila by the Asian Development Bank shows that leachate samples from the old Montalban and Payatas dumps contain high levels of contaminants, including heavy metals and fecal coliform that pose enormous risk to human health.
The incident, the EcoWaste Coalition said, should lead to a national inventory and evaluation, with civil society participation, on how waste disposal facilities comply with their ECC and permit conditions and the prosecution of those violating the requirements.
The incident should also serve as a wake-up call to Metro Manila mayors and residents about the necessity of addressing the persistent garbage of the metropolis through proactive waste prevention, reduction, segregation, recycling and composting programs.
“This ongoing practice of dumping Metro Manila’s discards in neighboring provinces is a denial of the rural people’s right to live in a pollution-free environment and has to be discontinued,’ the EcoWaste Coalition noted.
The EcoWaste Coalition believes that a genuine implementation of the basic requirements of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act can divert as high as 60% or more of municipal garbage out of dumpsand incinerators.
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