Eco group remembers Payatas victims, urges closure of open dump sites

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QUEZON City, July 13, 2013—An eco group called for the closure of open dump sites as it commemorated the 13th anniversary of the Payatas landfill tragedy that buried alive and killed hundreds of people.

During the commemoration on July 10, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Aquino administration for stricter implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or the Republic Act (RA) 9003.

The call, asking the President to commit to Zero Waste was made ahead of Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22.

“After all these years, justice remains elusive to the tragedy’s victims and their surviving relatives. The continuing operation of the dumpsite, masquerading as a sanitary landfill thirteen years since the disaster, ridicules the death of the victims and derides the indescribable sorrow of their loved ones,” Commission Romeo Hidalgo of the National Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) said.

EcoWaste Coalition is also calling for the immediate closure of open dumps as specified under RA 9003 requiring that all open and controlled dumps should have been closed by February 2004 and February 2006 respectively.

The Payatas dumpsite was closed as a result of the tragedy but was reopened again and to this day, continues to operate as a ‘sanitary’ landfill.

“Currently, illegally opened and controlled dumpsites continue to exist despite the clear provision of the law prohibiting their operations, to the dismay of eco groups pushing for the closure of these perilous disposal facilities,” the group said.

According to the group, as of 2012 data obtained from NSWMC, there are 606 open and 309 controlled dumpsites, in addition with 44 sanitary landfills and 69 more undergoing construction.

Aileen Lucero, acting national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition called on the president to highlight the government’s commitment to the genuine implementation of R.A. 9003 in his upcoming SONA and to stop the seeming dependence on so-called sanitary landfills and waste-to-energy incinerators as backbone of the country’s waste management strategy and proclaim Zero Waste as the way to go.

Lucero reminded the public that waste prevention and reduction starts at home, reiterating the need for everyone to consume responsibly, segregate discards at source and to reuse and recycle as much as possible to cut the volume of residual waste for disposal,” Lucero added.

“We must do our part to end our wasteful habits and uncaring treatment of the environment, and learn our valuable lessons from the Payatas tragedy and similar events to avoid such deadly incidents from happening again. Remember that as we keep on throwing away garbage, we become contributors to these kinds of disasters,” Lucero furthered. (Jandel Posion)

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