10 July 2011

EcoGroups Lament Government’s Persisting Environmental Crime in Payatas

Quezon City – Environmental groups are outraged at the government’s continuing failure to stop the destruction of the environment and bring justice to more than 600 people who died when a portion of the Payatas garbage mountain collapsed on July 10, 2000.

“After all these years, justice has yet to be served to the Payatas garbage slide victims and to the families they left behind. The continuing operation of the toxic dump eleven years since the disaster mocks the death of the victims and untold sorrow of their loved ones,” said Joey Papa of Bangon Kalikasan Movement and co-chair of the Task Force Dumps of the EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, all controlled dumpsites should have been closed in February 2006 and yet the Quezon City government operated the said waste disposal facility until December 31, 2010. Currently, the Payatas waste disposal facility is called a “sanitary” landfill.

“The Payatas waste disposal facility, by any other name like sanitary landfill, remains a dumpsite,” said Nito Panoy, a resident living adjacent to Payatas waste disposal facility.

“In fact, three weeks ago, we were told by the Payatas Operation Group headed by retired Col. Jameel Jaymalin to expect pocket or gradual demolition of houses to clear more area for garbage. To think that we were invited before to relocate here, a clean and promising community then and which we call until now Lupang Panagko,” said Panoy.

“Even if the so-called Payatas landfills have liners, these are bound to leak as have been found out by the United States Environmental Protection Agency from same facilities in the United States. The dump will continue to release leachate containing toxic chemicals and pathogens that can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, diarrhea and other illness,” said Papa.

The Payatas waste disposal facility is located near the critical La Mesa Watershed, a major source of drinking water to many communities of Metro Manila. It is also adjacent to the Marikina-Pasig River.

“To replace dumping, the Quezon City government must mandate and ensure that all its barangays to set up their own ecology centers. With honest-to-goodness implementation of the law, there is no need to haul and dump the waste in Payatas. This will ensure that millions of public funds are utilized properly and prevent another catastrophic tragedy,” said Papa.

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