Issue of December 3, 2017

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Residents oppose Ampucao ESL plan
by Ofelia C. Empian

Residents of Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte for the non-approval of the segregation of a proposed site for an engineered sanitary landfill (ESL) from the Lower Agno Watershed Forest Reserve (LAWFR) and its delisting from the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Law.

The appeal came after the passage of a resolution by the Protected Area Management Bureau endorsing the proposed ESL at Sitio Tapak in Barangay Ampucao and recommending the delisting of the area under the coverage of the Nipas Act of 1992, as it is part of the LAWFR.

The proposed ESL, if approved, will accommodate tons of garbage being collected daily from Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay.

“To be clear we are not against an engineered sanitary landfill as it is mandated by the law but we are against [establishing it at] the proposed area,” the residents stated in the petition directed to the President through Environment and Natural Resources Sec. Roy Cimatu.

Aside from being bothered from the daily operation of the ESL, the residents stated that there are creeks and rivers downstream that supply water to the San Roque Dam and will also affect some downstream residents of Pangasinan.

Also, the residents claimed the area has vast fully grown Benguet pine trees and saplings which thrived for many years and the proposal would have a significant impact on the eco-tourism efforts of the barangay in promoting Mt. Ulap which is adjacent and above the proposed area.

They said the garbage trucks going to the area, passing by the Philex-Kias Road will cause air pollution affecting residents along the road. They cited studies that “even the state of the art ESL will release toxins in the air and will eventually release toxic-bearing leachate to the ground and surface water.” 

“We support an ESL which will be implemented in an area which will have less, or better, no detrimental effects to its surroundings especially to the health of those living near it and will not degrade our natural resources,” the petition, signed by 256 residents, read.

The DENR central office has yet to answer the said petition.

Earlier, Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso said they are backing the proposal of the municipality of Itogon for the said ESL in the area, which he said is a viable place for the project.

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