Letter: Wasteland

Why do we always have to be the ones to suffer? I can’t help but ask this question, being a resident of San Mateo for more than 35 years and having witnessed the grandeur of our environment lost in the passage of time. The “development” of San Mateo has been left unchecked by our government for many years and with its vested interests turned the once nature’s haven into a barren wasteland: giant land developing corporations such as Filinvest Land Incorporated, Progressive Land Developers and Palmera have leveled the town’s mountains for their housing projects, destroying trees and burying headwater and creeks, quarry companies decimating our beautiful landscape releasing tons of silt and mud in waterways and agricultural lands, and rich individuals carving the lands according to their desire. It is no wonder why San Mateo has been a town of disasters, with flash floods, landslides and mudslides occurring every time a heavy downpour, typhoon or other hazards visit the country. Adding insult to injury, the people of San Mateo are again being forced to accept the effluence of other towns and Metro Manila’s. In its en banc decision last December 2005, the Supreme Court, with finality, ordered the perpetual closure, of the landfill being operated by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) which is located in Barangay Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo. The court cited for its decision the environmental significance of the barangay as part of the Marikina Watershed Reservation and highlighted the provision of Ecological Solid Waste Management Act that no landfills should be put up inside a environmentally-critical area. The case against the MMDA was filed by the local government of San Mateo, the provincial government of Rizal and non-government groups. Three years have passed, the LGU of San Mateo is singing a different tune. Along with the Provincial Government of Rizal, they are now pushing for a new landfill that will be built inside the same barangay. The new landfill will again cater to tons of mixed solid waste of Metro Manila and nearby towns, recreating again the havoc that was experienced by San Mateo during the operation of the old landfill. The new landfill will again result in stinking garbage trucks running back and forth across the town, toxic garbage leachate escaping into the environment and contaminating the land, water and air. Different operators, same operation, same problems but multiple disaster risk for the populace. It is the right of everyone to live in a healthy and safe environment. We, the people of San Mateo also deserve this right.
Noli Abinales Buklod Tao/ Task Force Dumps- EcoWaste Coalition Dona Pepeng Subdivision, Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal abinalesn@yahoo.com