By Katherine Adraneda Updated February 28, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has given the green light for the operation of the new landfill in San Mateo, Rizal which environmentalists and concerned residents have been protesting.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza said an investigation by the Environmental Management Bureau refuted the allegation that the new landfill is located within a watershed.
“It is properly and accurately located in Barangay Pintong Bukawe. So based on the findings, we cannot withdraw the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) issued to them,” Atienza told The STAR.
“As far as we know, they have already resumed the construction of the project. But if there were reports that it already has started its operation, if indeed it has started… well, nothing can hamper them from doing so at this point because they were given clearance already,” he added.
Environmentalists and residents said they have received reports that the new landfill has already begun operating “despite violating several environmental regulations and guidelines.”
They earlier had accused the landfill’s developer of deceiving the government when it obtained an ECC for the project.
They said the ECC was for the construction of the landfill in Sitio Mabilog na Bato, Barangay Pintong Bukawe, but that the developer actually built it in a protected forested part of San Mateo, particularly in Barangays Maly and Guinayang.
The 19-hectare initial phase of the landfill, which is expandable to 200 hectares, is said to rival the Smokey Mountain and Payatas dumps in Manila and Quezon City, respectively.
The final size of the landfill site would purportedly be almost half of the 473-hectare protected forest area in Barangays Guinayang and Maly.
Environmentalists said the landfill site forms part of the protected forest area and is located on an over-50-degree slope, thus it is prone to natural hazards such as landslides, flash floods, erosion and massive soil watering.
They added that the new landfill is adjacent to major tributaries, including the Marikina, Abuab, Boso-Boso and Wawa rivers and the Laguna Lake, thus posing health hazards to Rizal and Metro Manila residents who rely on water from the Marikina watershed reservation.
Meanwhile, residents of surrounding communities have launched a signature campaign to stop the operation of the new landfill, as they raised alarm against its impending “nightmares.”
“This signature campaign is our protest action against the illegal, anti-environment and anti-people San Mateo landfill project,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment.