Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Conversations and lasting change by Chuck Baclagon

Greenpeace Toxic Campaigner presents to DENR Secretary Lito Atienza a bottle of toxic water collected from the waste collected from the Taytay dumpsite.

Greenpeace Toxic Campaigner presents to DENR Secretary Lito Atienza a bottle of toxic water collected from the waste collected from the Taytay dumpsite.

Organizationally we promote open, informed debate about society’s environmental choices. We use research, lobbying, and quiet diplomacy to pursue our goals, as well as high-profile, non-violent conflict to raise the level and quality of public debate.

Such can be said of the event that we did yesterday, we did a direct action in order to ignite well informed conversation around the issue of dumpsites. Conversations are the ideal form of communication in some respects, since they allow people with different views on a topic to learn from each other.

Below is an interesting conversation between a concerned citizen of Taytay who wrote to Beau Baconguis our resident expert on matters relating to toxic chemicals and water pollution.

I would like to thank you for your concern on the Taytay dumpsite, it is not only an ecological disaster but also a health hazard for those people living near said dumpsite like us.

Everyday, we have to endure the bad odor coming form that dumpsite, complaints were already filed with Taytay and Agono mayors’ offices but remain unattended for many years, that is why we the residents of Angono and Taytay who are living near said dumpsite are very happy when your group went to that place together with GMA 7/QTV11, at least we may now see the end of our sufferings.

However, looks like you only looked at the Taytay dumpsite, you seemed to have failed to check also the dumpsite in the Angono side which is just a few meters from Taytay dumpsite.

This Angono dumpsite ie even worse because the garbage were used to reclaim big portion of Laguna Lake in Angono side, this dumpsite was opened during the incumbencyy of Mayor Gerry Carlderon of Angono, when Dr. Au Villamayor won the mayoralty election in 2007, she closed said dumpsite, but not for long, it was reopened again.

You could just imagine the sufferings the residents of Angono and Taytay with these two dumpsites, the Taytay dumpsite maybe a lesser evil compared to Angono dumpsite because there is a road that divides Taytay dumpsite from Laguna Lake, but of course the pollution still directly affects the lake.

While the Angono dumpsite, the garbage were really dump directly in the lake, purportedly for reclamation for an access road to the Angono town proper to ease traffic, but we had to pay a heavy price, first by directly polluting the lake and of course the bad odor coming out from said dumpsite. It is indeed and big health hazard to people of Taytay and Angono.

I hope you will also visit the Angono dumpsite and please do not stop until both dumpsites are closed down permanently.

By the way, when I called DENR last year about these two dumpsites, they told me that only Taytay has a permit, but not Angono, it’s ironic that former Angono mayor Gerry Calderon who gave the permit for this dumpsite is now an assistant of DENR Sec. Atienza!!

Here’s Beau’s response:

Thank you very much for your letter. We are always happy to receive letters like yours as they inspire us to work even harder knowing that we have the support of people like you.

As a continuation of our action yesterday at the Taytay dumpsite, we brought some of the waste and water from the dump to the DENR today. We gave the water to Sec. Atienza to remind him that that was the kind of contaminated water that the people living near the dumpsite like you are exposed to every single day while the waste is not excavated and dealt with in an ecological and safe manner.

Yesterday, we got a written commitment from Mayor Gacula that he will support our call for excavation and proper clean up and rehabilitation of the dump, as well as putting in more stringent policies on dumpsite clean up and rehabilitation. We can give you a copy of his statement so you can use it to follow him up on his promise.

We did not get a commitment from the DENR except that they are open to hold a meeting to discuss the policies that we want put in place in relation to water protection and solid waste management.

We believe that it is in this type of exchanges that synthesize rhetoric into lasting change where stakeholders are given space to engage and speak their minds on issues that involve them and their immediate environment.

Chuck Baclagon

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