To PROTECT San Mateo from the Landfill

Environmental degradation and health risks are what residents of San Mateo would have to face on a daily basis once garbage trucks start dumping trash from nearby cities in the landfill at Barangay Guinayang, San Mateo, Rizal.


Environmental degradation and health risks are what residents of San Mateo would have to face on a daily basis once garbage trucks start dumping trash from nearby cities in the landfill at Barangay Guinayang, San Mateo, Rizal.

Right under their noses

The San Mateo landfill started last 2007. But it was only this year that the residents were informed about the landfill that was being constructed right under their noses. Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of KALIKASAN-PNE, said that the landfill project has clearly neglected the need for public consultation before constructing the landfill.

Aside from ignoring the need for public consultation, Bautista said, there are false details cited in the P380 million ($8,042,328 at the May 9, 2009 exchange rate of $1=P47.25) project proposal for the San Mateo landfill. He said that the most obvious erroneous declaration is the location of the landfill. The documents that KALIKASAN has gathered show that it was supposed to be constructed in Barangay (village) Pitong Bukawe. But upon further investigation, they found out that it was constructed in Barangay Guinayang.

Bautista believes that there is corruption involved since all the basic processes before a landfill is to be constructed were not fulfilled. “Kung wala ka talagang ikinakatakot, hindi na dapat magkaroon ng mga maling representasyon sa mga documents nito,” (If they are not hiding anything, there should have been no false representations in the documents.) he added.

The area

The San Mateo landfill can accommodate a maximum of 2,000 tons of garbage per day. But Secretary General Jordan Jurado of People’s Response for the Organized Protection of the Environment or PROTECT-San Mateo said a report from Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) revealed that there are about 8,000 tons of garbage collected daily.

Wala pang isang buwan, tanaw mo na ang basura. Ramdam mo na ang epekto,” (In a matter of one month, you would see the overflowing garbage from a distance. You’ll be able to feel its effect on the nearby communities.) said Jurado.

“Mula dun sa paanan ng bundok, 57 minutes lang kapag nilakad mo (hanggang sa mismong landfill) at mabagal pa kami. Hindi pa kami nagmamadali (nung sinubukan namin yun),” (Trekking up to the landfill will only take 57 minutes even if you walk very slowly. We were not even rushing when we tried it.) said Jurado, adding that there is only about one hour difference from the landfill to the Filinvest Homes, a middle-class subdivision.

There are four barangays (villages) that would be directly affected by the landfill. Aside from this, Jurado insisted that even villages far from the actual landfill would still affected because they would have to endure the foul smell from garbage trucks passing daily. He added that many do not know that if it rains, water contaminated by the garbage would flow to creeks that lead to the San Mateo River and eventually to the Pasig River. Then, Jurado insisted that any drive to save the Pasig River would be useless.

Bautista said that the location of the San Mateo landfill is inappropriate because it is beside a classified protected forest. He added that the location is within the Marikina watershed area that does not only generate potable water for San Mateo but to many parts of Metro Manila.

Generating public awareness

Since there was no public consultation, most of the residents of San Mateo have no idea about the proposed landfill that would serve the neighboring cities. Jurado said that either the Mayor or the barangay captain who is at fault after failing to consult the public about the proposed landfill project. “Dapat mahal mo kami dahil kami dahil sa amin ka humihingi ng boto, sa amin ka humihinigi na buwis. Hindi namin kailangan ng kita niyan kung magkakasakit naman kami,” (You should love us because you get your votes and your taxes from us. We don’t need the added revenue that the landfill may bring if we are just going to get sick.) he added.

“Malaking income ang papasok sa kanila pero hindi nila isinaalang-alang ang epekto na idudulot ng landfill na ‘yun sa mga mamamayan mismo. Hindi lang kalikasan ang masisira ng landfill na iyon kundi yung kabuhayan mismo, yung kalusugan ng mamamayan mismo,” he said. (The government would generate substantial income from the landfill but they did not take into account the effects that it have on the residents. Not only will it destroy the environment but it will also affect the livelihood and the health of the residents.) Adrian Santos, Chairman of PROTECT added.

PROTECT-San Mateo is currenlty providing information to empower the residents to resist the project that will affect not only the state of their environment but also put at risk the people’s health and livelihood. They are also generating a signature campaign among the residents. But Santos said that they are not planning to target a specific number of signatures against the project because he believes that it is impossible to approximate the total number of residents who would stand against the landfill. “Kung matuloy yan, kahit yung mga anak ng mga nabubuhay ngayon ay pipirma sa kung ano mang iaapila laban dito,” (If the project pushes through, even the children of those living today would sign the petition against it.)

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