Army blasts use of part of reservation as dump
DAGUPAN CITY—The Philippine Army had complained at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against the town government of Binmaley, Pangasinan, for turning a section of a military reservation here into a garbage dump.
Capt. Ljubomir Bangoc, civil military operations officer of the Army’s 70th Infantry Cadre Battalion based in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province, said the mountain of garbage in the area had prevented them from conducting training programs.
“That part near the open dump was our firing range. We have used the reservation for military exercises since the 1990s. Unfortunately, we cannot use that now,” said Bangoc, who was a guest in a media forum here on Thursday.
The 19-hectare area, which then President Manuel Quezon proclaimed as a military reservation in 1936, spans the coastal villages of Baybay Lopez and San Isidro Norte. An Army detachment occupies the area.
Binmaley Mayor Simplicio Rosario said the local government has permission to use the area and denied that the dump inside the reservation is an open facility.
“They [Army] actually allowed us to use it until we shall have finished our materials recovery facilities by Aug. 31,” said Rosario in a telephone interview. “It’s not a open dump. We dig, we dump, then we cover the garbage with soil.”
Bangoc, however, denied there was an agreement allowing the local government to use the area as an open dump, saying the Army could not have agreed to do something illegal.
He said there are no records when the town government began using it as a dump but soldiers assigned there had told him the dumping started in 1995.
Bangoc said this violated Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The law prohibits the operation of open dumps. It also mandates, among others, waste segregation in every household, the recycling and composting of wastes in the barangay level, and the collection of residuals (wastes that cannot be recycled or composted) by the municipal or city government.
Leduina Co, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said her office had inspected the area and had asked Rosario to prepare a safe closure and rehabilitation plan for the dump.
Rosario said he will comply with the DENR’s order.
But he asked the Army to release a garbage truck it allegedly impounded on June 16 so the town can continue collecting garbage.
Bangoc said they did not impound the truck and its driver can get it from the camp anytime.
“The other problem there is that the leachate (liquid) from the garbage will eventually contaminate the Lingayen Gulf. The beach there is beautiful but it’s really a pity that man-made actions will destroy it,” said Bangoc.
He said garbage there is composed mostly of plastic bags and a mix of biodegradable and nonbiodegradable wastes.
Rosario declined to say where the town government has been dumping its garbage since June 17.
But he said the local government will soon enter into an agreement with the Urdaneta City government to allow them to dump Binmaley’s garbage in the city’s sanitary landfill. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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