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Plan to build new San Mateo landfill hit

By DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:59:00 01/10/2009

Filed Under: Waste Management & Pollution Control, Local authorities

MANILA, Philippines ? Environment groups and concerned residents of San Mateo, Rizal, are up in arms over a proposal to build a new landfill in a forested part of the town, which would purportedly become the dumping ground of a portion of Metro Manila?s garbage.

The Coalition for a Garbage-Free San Mateo, a newly formed group, said the proposed construction of a 200-hectare landfill in Barangays Maly and Guinayang would ?rival the infamous Payatas garbage dump? in Quezon City.

It said the landfill would be used as the dumping ground of wastes from the town, neighboring municipalities and even Metro Manila, which used to dump its garbage on the existing San Mateo landfill until the Supreme Court ordered it shut in 2005.

EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace also indicated their opposition to the project, which they said is located in an environmentally critical area since it is linked to the Marikina watershed and drains into the Laguna Lake.

Rei Panaligan, coordinator of EcoWaste, said his group is preparing documents for the possible filing of a complaint against the developers for violation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

AC Dimatatac, a Greenpeace campaigner, said their organization was also looking at the project closely because of its probable links to bodies of water.

Sought for comment, town officials connected to the project were unavailable, and at press time, had not returned the Inquirer?s calls.

Jing Husin, a concerned citizen and a leader of the protest movement, said the landfill is to be built by the San Mateo Sanitary Landfill and Development Corp., a company formed on Sept. 11, 2007.

Done in secrecy

?The construction of the dumpsite was done in secrecy and with indecent haste, in utter disregard of Rep. Act No. 9003,? she said in an e-mail to the Inquirer.

According to Husin, the company secured an environmental clearance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ostensibly for the construction of the dump in Sitio Mabilog na Bato, Barangay Pintong Bukawe.

But from the beginning, she said the company had intended to put up the dump not in Pintong Bukawe but in Barangays Maly and Guinayang, which, according to Husin, is a protected forest area.

?The 19-ha initial phase was actually built on a private property in Barangay Guinayang, several kilometers away from Pintong Bukawe, expandable to 200 ha or almost half of the 473-ha protected forest area when fully completed,? she said.

Quoting the Land Use Plan of San Mateo, Husin said ?the protection forest area is found in the northern, middle, and eastern portion of the municipality, particularly in Barangays Maly, Guinayang, Malanday, Dulong Bayan II, Guitnangbayan II and Pintong Bukawe.

?These are the areas which slope above 50 percent which based on PD705 and RA No 7586 should be put under permanent forest cover by virtue of their environmentally critical nature, i.e., being prone to such natural hazards as landslides, erosion, mass wasting and soil creep,? she said.

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