Sunday, February 26, 2006

SC denies government appeal on sanitary landfill

By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star

The Supreme Court (SC) has denied with finality the government’s motion for reconsideration for its ruling last Dec. 13 ordering the government to permanently close the sanitary landfill in San Mateo, Rizal.

In a one-page en banc resolution, the SC said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) did not present any substantial arguments "to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision."

The SC did not give weight to the government’s contention that the sanitary landfill did not contravene any of the country’s environmental policies.

In the motion for reconsideration, the OSG argued that the sanitary landfill "is not a dumpsite, which is an environmental hazard."

It said a sanitary landfill, as defined under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, is a "waste disposal site designed, constructed, operated and maintained in a manner that exerts engineering control over significant potential environmental impacts arising from the development and operation of the facility."

The OSG cited a recent report of the International Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Association that the modern sanitary landfill method of waste disposal is an integral part of any successful solid waste management system.

In its Dec. 13 ruling penned by Associate Justice Minita Chico-Nazario, the SC unanimously declared unconstitutional Proclamation No. 635 signed by former President Fidel Ramos on Aug. 28, 1995 setting aside 71.6 hectares of the Marikina watershed reservation area for the sanitary landfill to address the garbage crisis in Metro Manila.

The SC said residents of Rizal would remain uneasy unless the sanitary landfill is not permanently closed.

Despite strong objections from Rizal residents and government agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Laguna Lake Development Authority, the Kilosbayan headed by former Sen. Jovito Salonga, and the Pintong Bocaue multipurpose cooperative, Ramos issued Proclamation No. 635.

Ramos tasked the Metro Manila Development Authority to oversee the operations of the sanitary landfill.

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