Payatas dwellers expose themselves to environmental hazards by staying–SC
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday told residents of an urban poor resettlement area in Payatas that they brought upon themselves the environmental hazards they were claiming they were exposed to.
During Tuesday’s en banc session, the high court dismissed the petition filed by Alyansa ng mga Samahang Nagkakaisa sa Payatas seeking a writ of kalikasan against the Quezon City government for pushing for the expansion of the city’s sanitary landfill where their houses were built.
“Any environmental hazards are brought upon petitioners themselves by their insistence on staying at the location of the proposed landfill expansion,” the high court said.
It added that the Quezon City government had issued notices to vacate and even offered them financial assistance to relocate.
The group said the landfill, including its expansion, now occupied 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 said that the daily dumping on the site had 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.
“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.
However, the high court said petitioners failed to present evidence to prove their claim.
“The magnitude of environmental damage required by the rules on the writ of kalikasan has not been met as no evidence has been shown prima facie to support any such claim of damage,” Te said.
“Finally, the court also noted the lack of affidavits, scientific studies or documentary evidence to support the claimed environmental damage, as required by the rules on the writ of kalikasan,” Te added. RC
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