Around 24 activists, aboard several rubber inflatable boats, secured mooring lines across Pier 18’s sea access, preventing the entry and exit of the dump’s trash barges. After closing the illegal dumpsite, the activists displayed banners that read “This dumpsite is now closed” and “Stop ocean destruction.” Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition are calling for the immediate closure of the dump, as well as for its clean-up and rehabilitation.
“It is completely unacceptable that this garbage dump continues to operate with impunity when it blatantly violates Philippine laws,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition. “We are demanding all concerned agencies and local government units, particularly the city of Manila, to follow through and close down Pier 18 as well as all similar dump sites, permanently.
“Pier 18 is a sordid example of crime and grime on our waters,” said Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Oceans Campaigner. “Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition are here to enforce the law by closing down this illegal waste dump. This should also serve as a first step toward rehabilitating Manila Bay. Not only do such dumps endanger the health of Filipinos, they also threaten the well-being of water bodies on whose bounty millions of Filipinos rely.”
The presence of the Pier 18 dumpsite exacerbates the pollution problem in Manila Bay. Purportedly a garbage “transfer station,” the facility has been stockpiling trash for decades. The facility violates existing laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), the Clean Water Act (RA 9275) and the Clean Air Act (RA 8749). It is also directly contradicts the Supreme Court Decision GR Nos. 171947-48 ordering the expeditious clean-up of Manila Bay (1). The transport of garbage across several kilometers on water heightens the risk of further pollution in the bay (2).
Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition believe that unless waste dumps and similar facilities such as Pier 18 are shut down, the pollution problem facing communities on land and plaguing our marine waters will be difficult, and even impossible, to address. Greenpeace is additionally proposing a Road to Recovery for the Philippine seas which includes measures to reduce and eliminate stressors, such as pollution, on vital marine habitats.
“Each year, the government spends millions in trying to clean up Manila Bay. But a big part of the problem is illegal waste dumps,” said Lucero. “We are calling on the city of Manila to close down all existing dumps and put into place genuine ecological solid waste management systems based on the principles of people-based management, waste minimization and segregation at-source.”
“The City of Manila and the Philippine Government cannot turn a blind eye on Pier 18 whose filth and muck are spilling into one of the country’s most important bodies of water,” said Cinches. “It is time the government sent the message that our marine waters are not dumping grounds. The Aquino administration must also strictly implement policies at a national level to ensure that our oceans are protected. We must reduce additional stresses on our marine ecosystems. We need to protect the integrity of our marine resources against abuse, and invoke the mandate of the state to provide a healthy and balanced ecology for its people.”
The Esperanza is in the Philippines for the “Ocean Defender Tour of Southeast Asia 2013.”(3) The tour aims to tell the story of the richness and the beauty of the Philippine seas, expose destruction that causes marine degradation, and sound the alarm to call for urgent government action to save the Philippine seas from crisis(4). Filipinos can join the growing movement of people dedicated to saving the seas by signing up at www.defendouroceans.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner, , +639175363743
Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, , +639178369592
Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Media Campaigner, , +639178228793
FOR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS:
Grace Duran-Cabus, Photo Desk, , +639176345126
Amado Barrido, Video Producer, , +639176345129
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The dumpsite at Pier 18 violates the following laws:
a. Violation of RA 9003 – The Solid Waste Management Act prohibits the establishment and operation of open dumps for waste disposal. The wastes being transferred into this facility are unsegregated and clearly violate Section 10 of RA 9003 which stipulates that “segregation and collection of solid waste shall be conducted at the barangay level.” Also, this law strictly bans all forms of open dumping, especially in flood-prone and environmentally critical areas such as Manila bay.
For landfills, RA 9003 provides that “the site shall be located in an area where the landfill’s operation will not detrimentally affect environmentally sensitive resources such as aquifers, groundwater reservoir or watershed area, by provision of the following special mitigation measures and additional criteria: the facility shall be a minimum 50 meters away from any perennial stream, lake or river”. [m.1, Rule XIV, IRR]. This facility is located right smack in Manila Bay.
b. Violation of RA 9275 - The Clean Water Act prohibits dumping into water bodies or along the margins of any surface water, which could result to water pollution or block the natural flow of water.
RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act refers to “dumping as any unauthorized or illegal disposal into any body of water or land of wastes or toxic or hazardous material: Provided, that it does not mean a release of effluent coming from commercial, industrial, and domestic sources which are within the effluent standards”. [l, Sec.4, IRR]
RA 9275 further defines pollutant as “any substance, whether solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive, which directly or indirectly: (i) alters the quality of any segment of the receiving water body so as to affect or tend to affect adversely any beneficial use thereof; (ii) is hazardous or potentially hazardous to health; (iii) imparts objectionable odor, temperature change, or physical, chemical or biological change to any segment of the water body; or (iv) is in excess of the allowable limits or concentrations or quality standards specified, or in contravention of the condition, limitation or restriction prescribed in this Act”. [bb, Sec. 4, IRR]
c. Violation of RA 8749 – The Philippine Clean Air Act specifically prohibits burning of wastes or incineration, defined as “the burning of municipal, biomedical and hazardous waste, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes is hereby prohibited. [Sec. 20, RA8749]. It also mandates local government units to promote, encourage and implement in their respective jurisdictions comprehensive ecological solid waste management that includes waste segregation, recycling and composting.
d. Violation of Supreme Court Decision GR Nos. 171947-48 - The Writ of Continuing Mandamus directs 13 government agencies “to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay.”
2. Pier 18 is incidentally located beside a coal stockyard which is situated right at Manila Bay’s shores. This stockyard and port for supplies of coal, which is a toxic substance, also presents an additional pollution threat to Manila Bay.
3. http://greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/ocean-defender-2013/ . Briefing papers available at http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/Ocean-Defender-Briefers/
4. Greenpeace is calling on the Aquino administration to immediately act against the crisis of overfishing and marine ecosystem degradation by enacting a Road to Recovery for the Philippine Seas that includes:
- Ensuring that the protection, rehabilitation, and conservation of Philippine seas are a national priority (such as by improving MPA management and establishing a national network of marine reserves) ; and
- Eliminating overfishing and allowing the recovery of the Philippine fish stocks. This can be achieved with steps such as stronger vehicle registry systems, halting the issuance of commercial permits, and strict enforcement of the 15 kilometer zone for small scale fishers.