In line with the order of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to close all open dumpsites nationwide by end of March this year, DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda on Friday (Feb. 5) terminated the operation of an estimated four-hectare open dumpsite being managed by the municipal government of Sta. Ana in Pampanga province.

Antiporda personally went to Barangay San Nicolas, Sta. Ana, Pampanga to see the blatant violation wherein he cited cases where the operation of open dumpsites is disguised as recycling facility.

“We are again in this situation that they use the term materials recovery facility (MRF) but in reality, it is an open dumpsite, which the law prohibits,” he said.

The Undersecretary was further exasperated when he found out that Sta. Ana Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) Bryan James Garcia, a former employee of DENR-Region 3, prepared the report used as basis for the Notice of Violation (NOV) issued to the municipal government of Sta. Ana in 2018. The NOV was relative to the operation of the dumpsite but the LGU did not act on the notice.

“Nagagalit ako kasi nalaman ko na ikaw pa pala ang gumawa ng report tungkol dito nung ikaw ay nasa DENR pa. Ano ang ginawa mo upang maiwasto ang mga violations na inisyu noon ngayong ikaw na ang MENRO dito?” Antiporda lamented.

Garcia was then the monitoring officer of the DENR-Solid Waste Enforcement and Education Program under the Environmental Monitoring Office.

The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 3, together with the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group and Sta. Ana Municipal Police Station, served the cease and desist order against the open dumpsite located at Barangay San Nicolas, Sta. Ana, Pampanga, for violating Section 37 of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Likewise, it also directed Sta. Ana MENRO to provide a safe closure and rehabilitation plan within seven days.

Based on the recent investigation of EMB-Region 3, the open dumpsite is adjacent to the MRF owned and operated by the municipality. However, further investigation showed that the MRF is also being operated as an open dumpsite.

“They are not really using the MRF. They just used the name but still make and use this as an open dumpsite," Antiporda stressed.

He further stressed that the open dumpsite is located in a farmland, which causes degradation of environment and poses health hazards to the residents living within the area as the leachate from the dumped waste goes to the ground and contaminates the groundwater.

“You can see napakaganda po ng ating kabukiran then lalagyan mo ng basurahan sa gitna, malalason po ang tubig sa ilalim ng lupang ito kung kaya’t kailangang ma-safe closure and rehab ito,” Antiporda emphasized. ###