Land dispute precipitates a possible garbage crisis for Bulacan, Metro Manila
NOBODY LIKES TO listen to trash talk, but this one deserves our ears. A garbage facility in Norzagaray, Bulacan is in danger of closing after a private security team has decided to barricade a barangay road leading to the landfill, preventing garbage trucks from entering. The team of security guards, according to the legal owner of the garbage disposal facility, claimed they were only following orders from a company that suddenly declared a portion of their property as its own.
“We are very alarmed by this situation,” said Arthur Legaspi, president of Waste Custodian Management (Wacuman), a landfill operator that manages the Norzagaray facility and also owner of part of the property being claimed wholly by another company.
“All of a sudden, we were deemed illegal owners of the land where we have operated our landfill business for years,” he said.
In 2008, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1655, declaring the sanitary landfill disposal facility managed by Wacuman, located in Sitio Tiyakad, Barangay San Mateo in Norzaragay, Bulacan as an alternative waste disposal facility for the municipalities and cities of Bulacan, Metro Manila, and nearby areas.
The 18-hectare San Mateo landfill was established in 2007 and Wacuman was granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) with a Category 4 by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“When we started the facility, we have made safety our utmost priority,” Legaspi explained. “Through the years, our San Mateo landfill was able to augment the lack of suitable and proper landfills in the country. We have delivered our services efficiently and for almost a decade, we have not encountered any problems.”
He also added that Wacuman passed all the necessary requirements and standards, ensuring that the company is operating an efficient and environment-friendly sanitary landfill. Since then, the DENR together with the National Solid Waste Management Commission have monitored regularly to ensure safe and proper waste handling and management.
However, earlier this month, Wacuman was surprised when a team of security guards set up a post and gate, restricting entry to people and preventing the garbage trucks, which come from all over Bulacan and some cities in Metro Manila, from entering the landfill.
“Our papers, land titles, permits to operate, etc. are all legal and complete. We have been operating our business smoothly and efficiently. We know we legally own this landfill so it is a grave injustice that we are being barred entry to our land and victimized by this form of harassment,” he said.
The company has already filed the necessary complaints with the proper authorities. It also reached out to the Bulacan provincial government to ensure that their workers are safe and that this problem will be resolved immediately.
However, Legaspi is concerned by the fact that if no action will be done soon, he is afraid that this “land-grab” problem may turn into a garbage crisis that will affect the cities that make use of the Norzagaray landfill, especially the municipalities and cities of Bulacan and even part of Metro Manila.
“We are calling our proper authorities to act on this matter immediately,” he pleaded. “This is not only a localized problem. Part of a functioning community is a reliable and efficient garbage collection system. And it is our commitment to fulfill that government mandate.”