THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said over the weekend that it has achieved its full target of closing down 335 open dumpsites across the country.

Open dumps are places where solid waste is deposited without further planning or consideration for environment or health standards. Under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, these are considered illegal and should have been phased out by Feb. 2006.

“This is a victory for the environment and the DENR. Despite the limitations brought about by the pandemic, our people never wavered in their sworn duty as public servants to get the job done,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a statement on Sunday.

Benny D. Antiporda, DENR undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units, said the closure of all open dumps sends the message that “the public that they cannot escape the long arm of the law.”

Mr. Antiporda, who also served as the alternate chair of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, said local governments can ask the DENR’s Environment Management Bureau for technical assistance on following the “safe closure and rehabilitation plan” for their respective dumpsites.

With the closure of the dumpsites, local governments must now dispose of their wastes in sanitary landfills or residual containment areas.

There are some 237 sanitary landfills operating nationwide, and 11 more are under construction, based on DENR data.

Earlier this year, Mr. Cimatu ordered the department’s regional offices to shut down all open dumps by the end of March. — Angelica Y. Yang