EcoWaste Coalition Asks DENR to Stop Planned Obando Landfill Off Manila Bay

A waste and pollution watchdog today urged Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to stop at once the proposed construction of a landfill facility in Obando, Bulacan off Manila Bay.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the call after participating in the “No to Landfill” forum last Thursday in Obando that brought together over 200 individuals from various sectors and groups of the municipality.

“We are aghast to learn that the Obando municipal government has allowed the construction of a privately-owned landfill in the fishing village of Salambao in Manila Bay. It’s a pollution time bomb in the making to be erected right where fishing communities get their livelihood and sustenance,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Project Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Municipal Resolution Number 102 adopted on January 24, 2011 and subsequently ratified on January 31, 2011 authorizes the Eco Shield Development Corporation to establish a 44-hectare landfill in Barangay Salambao, Obando.

During the forum, Rev. Fr. Edgardo de Jesus, lead figure in the anti-landfill campaign, exhorted Obando Mayor Orencio E. Gabriel to “abandon landfill as a solution to waste problem” and to promote ecological waste management instead.

Ecological waste management refers to the combined application of waste prevention, reduction, segregation, recycling, reuse and composting, excluding littering, dumping, incineration and other unhealthy disposal practices.

De Jesus also cited a “statement of opposition” to the construction and operation of any landfill in the whole of Bulacan that was signed by 140 priests, 105 religious and 132 parish and school leaders in the province.

“Landfills impair both the people’s lives and the environment. This is why we strongly oppose the construction of landfills in Bulacan,” stressed de Jesus.

The clamor of Bulakenyos against landfills has drawn support from the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of some 125 groups that is seeking real solutions to the waste crisis beyond landfills and incinerators.

“We ask Secretary Paje to step in and halt this obvious travesty of the government’s environmental protection program,” stated Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the Obando landfill project contravenes the intent of the government to clean up Manila Bay, reduce pollution in the Obando River and other river systems, as well as plant trees nationwide.

“Interestingly enough, there is a standing Supreme Court order directing concerned agencies, including the DENR, to clean-up, restore and preserve the water quality of Manila Bay, which is where proposed Salambao landfill is to be located,” he stated.

“In fact, some of the country’s ‘sanitary’ landfills are located adjacent or near surface waters, such as the Navotas City landfill in Barangay Tanza, a former 11-hectare fishpond southeast of the proposed Salambao landfill and lies east of Manila Bay,” Hidalgo lamented.