The illegal dumpsite at Manila Bay’s Pier 18 will be investigated, according to EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace. This pronouncement followed the four-hour shutdown of the facility by activists from Greenpeace Southeast Asia and crew for the ship Esperanza.
Early this morning the activists, aboard rubber boats, blocked the facility with mooring lines, temporarily stopping the barge operations of the polluting facility. The activists pulled out of the blockade after their peaceful protest was threatened by armed security who pulled out their guns in order to continue their waste transfer operations via their barges. Greenpeace and Ecowaste believe that Pier 18 operations put people and the environment in triple jeopardy: first, with the illegal waste dump right beside Manila Bay, second, with waste transfer operations that heightens the risk of spilling trash in the bay, and third, with the dumping of garbage in a new site, victimizing other communities.
“Today EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace stopped, albeit temporarily, the operations of this illegal waste dump,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition. “We are confident that this has started the process for this dumpsite’s permanent closure. days are numbered.”
EcoWaste Coalition has been compiling a body of evidence to initiate legal proceedings against the operations in Pier 18. During today’s activity, together with Greenpeace, they have sent notice to the Office of the Manila City Mayor, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
“Together with concerned government agencies and local government units, we are committed to helping them uphold our laws,” said Lucero. “Waste dumps are illegal and Pier 18 is just one of the worst examples of such facilities. The permanent shut down of this dump should be just the beginning if the government is serious about implementing the Solid Waste Management Law (RA 9003) and managing our waste and resources effectively.”
Early this morning, Senator Loren Legarda reiterated her call for the strict enforcement of RA 9003, in support support of the joint call of the environmental groups Greenpeace and the EcoWaste Coalition for the cleanup of Manila Bay. In a statement, Senator Legarda said that she will “push for an environmental audit to see the rate of compliance with our environmental laws, including the Solid Waste Management Act, and examine together with our lead implementing agencies what impedes the strict enforcement of these laws.”
Senator Miriam Santiago is also set to file a resolution to look into the operations of Pier 18. Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition welcome both moves.
“We believe the government has no choice but to close the waste dump at Pier 18,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Otherwise, its continued existence will be a monument to government failure, which will continue to proclaim how, despite strong laws, our mandated agencies are helpless to protect our waters, and secure our health and livelihoods.”
“The closure of Pier 18 is an important step in cleaning up our coastlines and rehabilitating Manila Bay. The closure of all other illegal dumps located near water bodies will be a big step in rehabilitating all our country’s seas,” he added.