EcoWaste Coalition Lauds Greenpeace for Closing Polluting Dump by Laguna Lake

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition today lauded the Greenpeace water patrol for doing what the national and local authorities have shabbily failed to do: shut down a notorious open dump that is polluting the Laguna de Bay.

“By their action today, Greenpeace underscored the sanctity of the people’s right to live in a healthy environment and to do what is morally just to protect the Laguna de Bay from further deterioration due to unchecked dumping,” Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition and coordinator of the group’s Task Force on Dumps and Landfills.

“Sovereignty resides in the people. Our laws, yes, including our Constitution, empower our people to enforce their rights for a healthful and safe environment, when the same is violated by individuals, companies and, more importantly, by public officials,” Atty. Amang Mejia, volunteer
lawyer of the EcoWaste Coalition, added.

“We laud the non-violent direct action by Greenpeace water patrol against the infamous Angono dump, an illegal garbage disposal site by the lakeside, to put in force the provisions of Republic Act 9003 and Republic Act 9275 that forbid dumping to protect the public health and the environment,” the waste and pollution watchdog said in a statement following news about the closure of the dump.

The Angono dump, the EcoWaste Coalition noted, continues to operate in unashamed disregard of two major environmental legislation on waste and water.

R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 strictly bans all forms of open dumping, especially in flood-prone and environmentally-critical areas. The fine of P500,000 shall be imposed, upon conviction, for persons and entities operating open dumps.

R.A. 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004, on the other hand, prohibits dumping into water bodies or along the margins of any surface water, which could result to water pollution or block the natural flow of water. This law sets the penalty between P10,000 to P200,000 for every day of violation.

It will be recalled that Greenpeace on April 21 this year put up a signpost at the Angono dump that says “Our Trash, Our Water. Protect Our Water Sources,” drawing massive local as well as international awareness about the illegal dumping on Earth Day (April 22).

Following the embarrassing exposure of lakeside dumping, Angono Mayor Aurora Villamayor met with the representatives of the EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace and the Green Angono Movement where she pledged to take action towards the closure of the illegal dump.

“We hope that other cities and municipalities that contribute to the contamination of the country’s largest freshwater lake, particularly those that continue to operate illegal dumps, will finally do what is right and, together with the citizens and the industries, breathe new life into the dying lake,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) in 2006 gave Angono, along with the towns of Biñan, Paete and Taytay, the “Nakasusulasok Award” for the existence of obnoxious dumps along the shores of the lake. At least 10 other municipalities in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Quezon host illegal dumps in blatant violation of the ban on open dumping.

According to the LLDA, “these dumpsites along the shores are ecological time bombs, which if not given priority attention will result to tragedy of immeasurable magnitude.”

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

1 Comment

  • Press Release:
    Friday, August 29, 2008; 3:30 PM
    Richard R. Gappi, Public Information Office, Municipality of Angono

    On Greenpeace’s “citizen’s arrest” on Angono Mayor Villamayor
    Pure prop and grandstanding but devoid of truth

    The Municipality of Angono describes Greenpeace Water Patrol’s “citizen’s arrest” on Hon. Mayor Aurora A. Villamayor as the highest form of grandstanding and propaganda but devoid of truth.

    The environmental group issued the “arrest” this morning after holding a picket at the garbage area.

    Richard R. Gappi of the Municipal Information Office said that the environmental group’s act of “closing” the garbage site by blockading the entrance with steel scaffolding is against the law, disrupts and usurps the local municipality’s role of managing its wastes, and a theatrical show of arrogance on the part of the respected environmental group.

    “There is no inaction on the part of the local government because we are right on track of finally putting up our Material Recovery Facility. The garbage area is not a dumpsite as the Greenpeace claims but a transfer station area which is allowed by law,” Gappi said.

    Gappi also noted that for 6 years, the previous local administration failed to close the dumpsite. “It was only this year that Mayor Villamayor decided to finally close the dumpsite area and transform it into a transfer station area,” Gappi added.

    Gappi also explained that the municipality received the “commitment of closure order” from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR) and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) last month. The commitment order also contains steps on how to rehabilitate the area which is approved by DENR and LLDA. The two agencies gave local officials four months or until November to complete the process.

    “It is very unfair to say that local officials, led by Mayor Villamayor, are doing nothing. In fact, the local municipality, along with LLDA and DENR, is on the process of rehabilitating the area through the LISCOP project and we are on schedule as per commitment closure order of the two agencies. That is why, Greenpeace’s action of ‘closing’ the garbage area and issuing a “citizen’s arrest” on Mayor Villamayor bespeak of ill motives on the part of the environmental group,” Gappi stressed.

    Gappi also noted that Greenpeace’s “citizen’s arrest” on Mayor Villamayor is autocratic, arrogant and a blatant act of disregarding due process. “Greenpeace campaigner Ira Baconguis called on Mayor Villamayor over the phone and commanded the latter to proceed immediately to the transfer station area. Ms. Baconguis acted as if she were Mayor Villamayor’s boss. That throws all the Good Manners and Right Conduct that Ms. Bacoguis learned from school, or the lack of it,” Gappi said.

    Gappi agreed with the environmental group that the Ecological and Solid Waste Management Act or RA 9003 allows citizen’s suit and citizen’s arrest.

    “But this can only be done if an appropriate case is filed in the proper court or body. The law also provides that no case or suit can be filed after a public officer or alleged violator has been given a 30-day notice during which no appropriate action has been taken by the alleged offender. In these two instances, a citizen’s suit against Mayor Villamayor is non-existent and Greenpeace never gave a 30-day notice to show its intention of suing Mayor Villamayor,” Gappi explained.