Fertility dance marks filing of SC petition to stop Obando landfill
Video by Ryan Leagogo/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines—The parishioners of Obando, Bulacan, on Wednesday staged a fertility dance in front of the Supreme Court as they filed a petition seeking the reversal of a Court of Appeals ruling allowing a dumpsite in their town.
In their petition for certiorari, the group led by Fr. Vergs Ramos, Maria Teresa Bondoc and former Finance Undersecretary Milwida Guevarra urged the high court to uphold their constitutional right to a healthy and balanced ecology.
The P600-million landfill construction project by Ecoshield Development Corp. (EDC) led by businessman Antonio Cabangon-Chua will be put up on a 45-hectare land area in a fishing village in the Manila Bay area in Obando area.
The petitioners said their rights have been violated by the destruction of mangroves to accommodate the dumping ground.
“The toxic fluids from the garbage will poison the waters, the air, the fish, the plants and ultimately, the residents, not only of Obando but of all the communities surrounding Manila Bay,” the group said.
The petitioners brought an image of their patroness, Our Lady of Salambao, and a group of parishioners in traditional garb performed the fertility dance in front of the Supreme Court compound on Padre Faura Street in Manila to protest the project.
“The rich culture of Obando, highlighted by the world famous fertility dance in honor of Our Lady of Salambao and Sta. Clara of Assisi literally emanated from our waters, comprised of the river systems in the town and the Manila Bay,” Guevarra said.
“If you put a huge garbage dump in these waters, such as the so-called Obando Sanitary Landfill by the EDC, it is tantamount to trashing this long-held tradition and explicitly violating the people’s heart and culture,” the petitioner said.
The former 10th division of the Court of Appeals earlier dismissed the petitioners’ claim that the project would cause environmental damage with a magnitude provided under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases (RPEC) to warrant issuance of the environmental protection order.
The Court of Appeals reiterated that there is no basis to stop the project of EDC and lauded the project for being “far much environmentally safer than other dumpsites” like the Phileco Navotas landfill, which has been the subject of health complaints by residents.
The appeals court gave weight to EDC’s argument that while the well-designed and engineered sanitary landfill is a latent fair investment, it would also help address solid waste management problems in Obando. The firm has already spent P500 million on the project as of June 2013.
It said a writ of kalikasan is available “when there is such a significant degree of environmental damage as to prejudice the life, health, and property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces,” which, it said, is not the case with the Obando landfill.
In 2008, EDC requested the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region III (MGB-RIII) for the conduct of geological site scoping for the proposed sanitary landfill in a 44-hectare land owned by EDC in Barangay Salambao, Obando.
It submitted an application for the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and the Initial Environmental Examination Report (IEER) prepared by Lichel Inc. to MGB-RIII.
Based on the IEER, the components of the landfill project include leachate treatment plant, storm water detention pond, wetland treatment area, materials recovery facility soil stockpile area, waste cells and barge docking area.
On December 22, 2010, the Sangguniang Barangay of Salambao approved EDC’s application. On its part, the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Obando issued a resolution on January 24, 2011, allowing EDC to construct and operate a landfill.
Then, on February 7, 2011, the SB allowed EDC to process reclassification of the project site from agriculture to commercial/industrial. On March 8, 2011, Mayor Orencio Gabriel approved and signed both resolutions and ordinance.
Still, petitioners questioned the actions of the local officials and appealed before Bulacan Governor Wilhermino Sy-Alvarado to stop the implementation of the project.