DENR wants to shut down Payatas landfill by first quarter of 2017
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wants the closure of the Payatas sanitary landfill at the soonest possible time, hopefully by the first quarter of 2017 according to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
"We need to get that out soon, but they have to look for a place. Even if they don't dump there, where will they dump? They need to find a place soon. I asked [Quezon City] Mayor Herbert [Bautista] how much time does he need," Lopez said during a press conference on Wednesday, January 18.
Lopez cited the Payatas landfill and the Inayawan landfill in Cebu when she announced on Wednesday the issuance of an order prohibiting dumpsites near bodies of water.
"Because the people there are not happy. There are so many communities there, so you can't continue to dump there in Payatas, so we have to give them time to look for another place," she added.
Environment Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna explained Lopez's concern regarding the Payatas landfill.
"Nakita niya 'yung possible impact ng leachate ng Payatas 'dun sa water table kasi bababa 'yan into our water table, so 'nung nakita niya yun, siyempre nakaka-alarm," she said.
(She saw the possible impact of the leachate of Payatas in our water table, because it will reach our water table, so when she saw that, of course it's alarming.)
She continued: "This is actually outside the ridges of La Mesa watershed pero magkadugtong naman kasi 'yung mga water table, or we presume na may connection sa ilalim ng water tables (but we presume that there are connections of water tables below) so it might still constitute a danger to the drinking water of Metro Manila, and I think all dumpsites are prone to leakage, you just line it and if the lining breaks or if you dump over the lining...then there will be leachate."
Environment Undersecretary Arturo Valdez said the DENR, together with the Environmental Ombudsman, is "going full blast" on the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
"All over the country, maybe you can only say 5% [of local governments] is complying with the sanitary landfill. The rest, they're violating. So the Ombudsman is really busy filing cases against the local governments, and not only that, the administrative penalty, perpetual disqualification from office," he explained.
In 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman said it will investigate hundreds of local government officials for allegedly allowing open dumpsites in their areas, in violation of the law.
But Valdez on Wednesday said they will prioritize closure and rehabilitation of landfills in major cities such as Quezon City and Cebu City in the next 30 to 60 days.
DENR's "positive approach," he said, is to help these local governments comply with the law, find alternative landfills, and clean up and rehabilitate the existing ones.
"They have to move quick in finding a place, kausap na ni Secretary si [Mayor] Herbert (the secretary is already talking to Mayor Herbert). If they really want it, they can do it," he said, referring to the Payatas landfill.
Lopez said they will transform Payatas this year and "make it really beautiful." – Rappler.com