A QUEZON CITY court ordered the local government to pay P6.27 million in damages to 57 relatives of the victims of a dump site tragedy that killed about 300 people two decades ago.

In a 133-page decision dated Oct. 30 but released only on Wednesday, the court ordered the city to pay P110,000 to the legal heirs of each victim of the Payatas dump site tragedy. Quezon City must also pay P50,000 each in moral damages, P10,000 in exemplary or corrective damages and P100,000 in lawyer’s fees.

The amount is much lower than the P3.3 million claimed by each plaintiff.

The court said the Quezon City’s failure to properly maintain, manage and operate a dump site led to the collapse of the upper part of the garbage mountain that killed about 300 people.

It noted that despite complaints about the rising pile of garbage that resulted in a temporary closure, the local government reopened the site for the entire Metro Manila.

The “improper and irresponsible” dumping of waste that created a “mountain-like pile of garbage” was the cause of the deaths and loss of properties, it said.

“The mountain-like trash in itself is a testament of the city government’s gross negligence in the management and operation of the dumpsite,” the court said.

Quezon City earlier said the plaintiffs had “willingly and voluntarily assumed the risk by refusing to be relocated to safer places,” saying it was their own negligence that caused the tragedy. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas