By Janina C. Lim

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is defying calls among Payatas residents to reopen the Quezon City Sanitary Landfill (QCSLF), saying its decision is final.

In this photo taken on March 5, 2013 shows scavengers collecting recyclable materials at a temporary dump site in the village of Payatas, Quezon City suburban Manila. AFP

“DENR officials maintained that the decision to close down the landfill due to numerous environmental violations and susceptibility to trash slide was already final,” read the agency’s statement over the weekend.

The agency was confronted by appeals to reconsider the closure during a recent dialogue with representatives of the Payatas Alliance Recyling Exchange (PARE) Cooperative whose members are mostly scavengers and junkshop owners relying on the landfill for their livelihood.

The QCSLF had reached overcapacity and the leachate is said to have already flowed through the Marikina River, a circumstance in violation of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, according to the agency.

Eligio Ildefonso, chief engineer at the Solid Waste Management Division of the Environmental Management Bureau and executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), said in the statement that “there was no technical basis for the DENR to allow the reopening of the Payatas landfill.”

“The DENR looks after the technical aspect, including the environment and the welfare of the people, while the Quezon City government handles the social aspect like providing alternative livelihood to those who will be displaced by the closure,” Mr. Ildefonso said.

“Let us all work together to find a solution to this problem,” he added.

The DENR has assured that PARE members will not immediately lose their source of livelihood as they may still benefit from the planned rehabilitation of the landfill.

Last month, the DENR turned down a request by the Quezon City government to allow the QCSLF to reopen until December this year due to violations committed by the landfill’s operator, IPM Environmental Services Inc.

The DENR has ordered the company to immediately submit its detailed Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan, which will be evaluated by the EMB-National Capital Region and the National Solid Waste Management Council.