Early this morning, the volunteers from Greenpeace shut the
gates of the dumpsite in Barangay Muzon with chains and metal
bars. Scaffolds with signs that said "Stop Water Pollution! Clean
Up, Not Cover Up!" were used to further block the closed gates to
prevent trucks from entering. Closure for the dump supposedly
began last month, but despite the closure notice, garbage trucks
still dump waste at the location, hurriedly covered up by
truckloads of soil.
"It is clear that no clean up is happening in Taytay--instead,
plans are underway for a massive cover up of this illegal dump.
Greenpeace agrees that this dumpsite should be closed--but it
should be closed down properly. The current closure
procedure--unfortunately endorsed by the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR)--is worthless, and involves no
semblance of rehabilitation at all. Unless there is a genuine
clean up, toxic leachate from this dump, even when hidden, will
continue to contaminate Laguna Lake and its surrounds for decades,
endangering the health and well-being of communities," said
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner Beau Baconguis.
The Taytay dumpsite is illegal under Republic Act no. 9003 or
the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which outlaws
open dumpsites, RA no. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of
2004 which bans waste dumps or landfills near water bodies, and RA
no. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 which mandates
local government units to promote, encourage and implement in their
respective jurisdictions a comprehensive ecological waste
management that includes waste segregation, recycling and
The Laguna Lake Development Administration (LLDA) awarded the
municipality of Taytay with the "Nakakasulasok Award" (shameful
award) in 2007 and 2009 for the continued operation of the
facility. Closure operations in the site began only in May 2009.
Currently, plans are underway to build a multi-million sports
complex and school buildings on top of the garbage heap.
Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition are questioning the soundness of
the proposal, as these facilities will literally be built on a
toxic and unstable mound of trash, jeopardizing the health and
safety of children in particular.
"The threat of far-reaching pollution is real. This is why the
current dumpsite closure guidelines need drastic improvement. We
need to discontinue dumping and put in place all the essential
measures and safeguards to reduce, if not thwart, the threats of
chemical pollution. It is not enough just to fence the dumps and
cover the stinking trash with soil. These are contaminated spots
requiring stringent rehabilitation and monitoring even after their
closure," said EcoWaste spokesperson Manny Calonzo.
Greenpeace and the EcoWaste Coalition are at present circulating
a document that will improve on current guidelines for closure and
rehabilitation of dumpsites and other waste disposal facilities.
According to the groups, the "best practice" for dumpsite closure
includes: public disclosure of closing and rehabilitation plans;
formation and empowerment of a multipartite monitoring team per
dumpsite with strong representation from the concerned stakeholders
at the start of the process; a historical assessment of the
dumpsite/waste disposal facility to get a better understanding of
the nature of wastes in the dump and determine appropriate measures
to deal with the closure and rehabilitation properly; as well as
the establishment of leachate collection systems.
"In particular, Greenpeace is asking for proper closure, clean
up and rehabilitation of dumpsites near or around bodies of water
such as the Laguna Lake. The pollution of freshwater sources is a
serious problem, one that will inevitably aggravate the major water
crisis which experts predict will most likely occur in the country
in the next decade. We are therefore challenging the local
government of Taytay, in particular Mayor Gacula, to adopt these
guidelines if he is indeed sincere in his claims to protect Laguna
Lake," said Baconguis.