MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will summon the mayor and councilors of Limay town in Bataan after it had found that the open dumpsite that government closed down in 2015 was still operating.
“[We’ll] summon the mayor and his councilors to know what happened here. The main objective [is] kung anong linis ang gawin sa Manila Bay, it will all be in vain kung sakaling papayagan natin ang mga ganito na dire-diresto ang basura…. Hindi lang solid waste, kundi ang leachate from the creek heading towards the river,” Environment Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management Benny Antiporda said on Wednesday, May 8.
(We’ll summon the mayor and his councilors to know what happened here. The main objective is this: no matter how much we clean Manila Bay, it will all be in vain if we allow dumpsites like this to operate…. Not just solid waste, but also leachate from the creek heading towards the river.)
DENR officials visited the open dumpsite in Limay, Bataan on Wednesday morning. In the afternoon, they went to the mayor’s office to hand out the cease and desist order (CDO) which officially closes the dumpsite and bars future deliveries of trash in the area.
Antiporda said they received a report last week that the local government is still using the dumpsite as a “transport station” before delivering the trash to a sanitary landfill in Tarlac.
DENR’s initial investigation showed that the local government has not delivered any garbage to the sanitary landfill in Tarlac since January, and mounds of garbage has already decomposed in the dumpsite.
Upon the closure of the dumpsite in 2015, Limay signed a memorandum of agreement with Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation for the latter to take Limay’s garbage from the dumpsite and process it in their facility.
However, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Marife Castillo said in a statement on Thursday, May 9, that Metro Clark had never issued a disposal report since the site’s closure.
The agreement between Limay and Metro Clark is set to expire in December 2019.
Antiporda said the situation is another Smokey Mountain in the making.
LOOK: Mounting piles of fresh and old garbage are dumped within the property.— Anna Mogato (@AGAMogato) May 8, 2019
Antiporda said that wastes turning black or that have turned black means it has been sitting in here for years. | @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/VIsYFewePk
“Here, they are saying that they have a wall to contain the water but we will still investigate where the leachate goes,” Antiporda said.
“Definitely it has to go somewhere and since the river is jsut meters away, there’s a big possibility that the leachate goes there and it flows down to the Manila Bay.” (READ: Cleaner rivers, estuaries seen within 2019 – Cimatu)
During the early stages of the government’s Manila Bay rehabilitation, the DENR already declared the areas of Orion and Mariveles in Bataan as clean enough for swimming. With the discovery of the open dumpsite in Limay, Antiporda said they fear it could contaminate the waters again.
The government will also be working on the relocation of some 3,500 informal settler families to avoid further pollution.
Mayor ‘coordinating’ with DENR
Limay Mayor Lilvir Roque told reporters that they have always been coordinating with the DENR to improve their operations.
“We are continuously following the safe closure plan of the DENR because that’s what we want: to have our garbage taken away because we are rehabilitating the area,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Roque also said that he earlier received an order from the regional Environmental Management Bureau to stop the operation of its existing dumpsite before May ends.
“We were given one month to comply, and then all of a sudden, someone visited there without informing us. We’re having coordination. We’re not shying away from what is needed to be followed,” he added.
Roque, who is running for governor of Bataan, noted the timing of the issue given the elections. Roque is running against reelectionist governor Abet Garcia, who has gained the support of the ruling party PDP-Laban, according to a Manila Bulletin report.
Roque said since his stint as mayor in 2010, he has crafted a 10-year solid waste management plan to prevent the leachate and the garbage from reaching the waters.
Roque added that aside from the retaining wall that keeps the garbage from reaching the river, they also finished building a fence and road network. Currently, the local government is trying to procure necessary equipment to process the waste. – Rappler.com