>> Monday, April 27, 2009
By Dexter A See
BAGUIO CITY -- Residents of Barangay Irisan here and neighboring barangays of Tadiangan and Nangalisan in Tuba, Benguet have petitioned the Regional Trial Court here to order the city government to stop dumping over 280 tons of waste at the 5.2-hectare Irisan open dumpsite.
Respondents were Baguio City Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr., administrator Peter Fianza and Environment Officer Romeo Concio.
The residents stated in their petition for injunction with temporary restraining order, these officials violated their rights instead of averting more environmental and health disasters they have been suffering for so long,
The dumping, they said, poses serious threat to their health and lives.
The petition was filed by residents due to insistence by the city government to dump mixed garbage at the closed dumpsite.
This, after the dumping of the waste in Capas, Tarlac was stopped due to lack of funds.
The petitioners said the city government violated provisions of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act as it continues to use an open dumpsite instead of a sanitary landfill or a controlled dump facility.
The residents said the law provides the operation of open dumpsites should be for a period of only five years since RA No. 9003 took effect in 2000.
The city government is operating the dump way beyond the deadline, they said.
Despite objection by thousands of residents of Irisan and neighboring villages in Tuba, Benguet, the city government forcibly opened the gates of the dumpsite and started dumping mixed waste to abort an impending garbage crisis in this city.
The residents of Tadiangan and Nangalisan opposed resumption of dumping at site because the city government failed to rehabilitate the dump, particularly the dilapidated retaining wall.
They said they feared garbage will spill over again in their villages during the rainy season.
They were the ones, they said, who cleaned the “garbage avalanche” that flowed down to their places the past years and the city government never extended any assistance to them.
Irisan residents barricaded the dumpsite last year temporarily stopping the city from further piling up garbage in the dumpsite which should have been closed since 2006.
They said the city government failed to adhere to earlier agreements with the city government to finally close the dump.
On April 1, residents claimed in their petition before the courts, the city started dumping garbage again at the site sending them into frenzy considering that rains were causing garbage to flow down to residents near the dumpsite down Tadiangan.
Potable water sources have also been affected, they said.
George Dumawing lawyer for petitioners said even after dialogues that forged agreements that the city government will stop dumping, this was breached.
But city officials argued the dumpsite had been closed but occasionally opened for rehabilitation.
Work there, officials said, were rehabilitation work and not dumping.
For more than nine months now since the “closure” of the dump, Baguio’s garbage had been hauled to a private-run sanitary landfill in Tarlac but budgetary constraints reportedly hampered the hauling.
Residents however said dumping never ceased posing “an eminent danger of erosion, other environmental and health hazards such as water pollution and diseases.”
This, despite the fact that the city mayor and officials, “know for a fact that the dumping is a clear violation of Section 37 of Republic Act 9003.”