Cimatu investigates dumping of solid waste into Manila Bay
MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered a full investigation of the dumping into the Manila Bay of voluminous solid wastes coming from a marine loading transfer station of garbage operator Philippine Ecology System Corporation (PHILECO).
"It would be in the public interest to hold a full investigation to determine the liability of PHILECO to the fullest extent possible," Cimatu said on Wednesday, September 27.
In a statement Thursday, September 28, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Cimatu personally inspected PHILECO's Vitas Marine Loading Station (VMLS) at Pier 18 in Tondo, Manila on Wednesday.
The VMLS is a transfer facility for wastes collected in Metro Manila and transported to the 40-hectare Navotas sanitary landfill, which is also operated by PHILECO.
The inspection came after the Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) said in a notice of adverse findings dated Monday, September 25 that VMLS violated conditions in its environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
The EMB-NCR said leachate from tons of solid wastes dumped at the transfer station were directly flowing into Manila Bay. There were also solid wastes scattered along the shoreline.
In addition, the EMB-NCR said PHILECO failed to meet the effluent standards for phosphate and total suspended solids. Untreated wastewater was also directly streaming into Manila Bay.
The monitoring team that conducted an inspection in August also noted that PHILECO violated Section 25 of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 for storing waste materials in the facility beyond the 24-hour limit.
During Wednesday's inspection, Cimatu saw the presence of garbage along the 4-km barangay road leading to the VMLS.
"What I saw outside does not speak well of how the facility operates and it only behooves the operator to likewise address that problem," Cimatu was quoted in the statement as saying.
"The situation here is similar to Payatas. Kaya nga pinasara ang Payatas dahil nakakasira sa kalikasan at kalusugan ng mga tao (That's why we closed down Payatas because it's destructive to the environment and to public health)," he also said, referring to the Payatas sanitary landfill in Quezon City.
The EMB-NCR summoned PHILECO officials to a technical conference on October 3, during which they will discuss the issue.
Cimatu wants representatives from concerned local government units and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to attend the technical conference as well.
Cimatu said his department is already looking into how higher fines and more stringent penalties can be implemented against those that violate environmental laws.
"Let me reiterate that we need to have a mechanism that determines the full compensation cost for the damage made arising from environmental crimes, including violations of ECC conditionalities," he added. – Rappler.com