Close Payatas landfill now, SC urged
Residents of an urban poor resettlement area beside the Payatas sanitary landfill in Quezon City, have asked the Supreme Court to stop its operation, citing hazards it poses to their health and the environment.
In a 19-page petition filed on Friday, the Alyansa ng mga Samahang Nagkakaisa sa Payatas asked the high tribunal to immediately halt the landfill’s operations by issuing a temporary environmental protection order and then make this permanent through a Writ of Kalikasan.
“It has to be closed down because it affects our health. The dump is near the La Mesa watershed which is the source of water for Metro Manila. And it brings disease to residents. Many have become sick because of the garbage,” said Leonita Panoy, president of the group.
The petitioners included Panoy and several homeowners from Lupang Pangako, the urban poor resettlement site created in 1986 in the Payatas area.
Named respondents were Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and garbage contractors currently operating in the landfill.
Panoy said that they decided to elevate their petition to the high court after it was denied several times by lower courts.
According to the group, the landfill, including its expansion, now occupies more than half of the original Lupang Pangako resettlement area: 7.1 hectares out of the total 12-hectare Payatas B, Lot-76 community.
The petitioners pointed out that the daily dumping at the site has exceeded the allowed limit of 800 tons of garbage—one of the conditions set in the environmental compliance certificate granted by the DENR-Laguna Lake Development Authority for the landfill’s operations in 2006.
Still an open dump
They said that while the site had reportedly been converted into a sanitary landfill, it continues to operate as an open dump in violation of Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
“…[T]he Quezon City “Sanitary Landfill” has been continuously putting the lives of Payatas residents at risk. Toxic emissions and leachate or toxic garbage effluent from the garbage dump are the gravest threat to the people’s health,” they added in their petition.
Children at risk
“The threat of lead poisoning, which seriously affects the brain due to heavy metals from the garbage dump, could seriously affect children in Payatas, who are more vulnerable to this affliction than adults,” the group said.
It pointed to the other dangers this posed to the health of the residents, “including respiratory diseases, gastroenteritis and cancer, among many others.”
The petition also cited how leachate from the dump travels to other Metro Manila waterways, affecting farmlands.
The “obnoxious odor and fumes” from the area has also spread to nearby subdivisions, it added.
“The dirt, bacteria and viruses in the waste disposed [of in] the area and carried by the air, then inhaled by the people, has caused numerous illnesses (pulmonary and bronchial health diseases), and possibly even death among them,” it added.
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