SEMIRARA DUMPSITE ISSUE
NO TO SEMIRARA DUMPSITE
WE, the officers and members of PAGTATAP FOUNDATION, INC., a non-stock, non-profit organization composed of professionals, residents, students, labor workers, public officials, and families from or of the municipality of Pandan, Antique, Philippines who have banded ourselves together to deliver charitable voluntary developmental and humanitarian services and projects to the town of Pandan and its constituents, do hereby declare and state as follows:
1. That we strongly oppose and denounce the plan of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Greater Metropolitan Manila Solid Waste Management Committee (GMMSWMC) to make use of Semirara Island, Municipality of Caluya in Northern Antique as another dumpsite of garbage from Metropolitan Manila. We, as rational and sensible human beings, do not accept the destruction of natural resource rich and untainted Semirara Island and the rest of the Antique coastline and territories to accommodate the disposal of mismanaged waste from Metro Manila that has already been rejected by other territories such as Tondo, Manila; Payatas in Quezon City; San Mateo, Rizal; Cavite and other localities within, surrounding or with land access from the metropolis. We cannot allow the sacrifice of the livelihood of our townmates who, despite having to live in deprivation and who have to contend with the neglect and apathy of an unsympathetic central government, try to survive through the blessings of its fertile agricultural and fishing resources, or whatever has been left by the unthwarted mining and fishing abuses of external elements. We strongly object to the tarnishing of the image of our territories as being a world-class tourist destination and transform it into a forsaken thrash land.
2. We reject with contempt the rational put forth by MMDA Chairman Jejomar Binay and presidential adviser Robert Aventajado of the Flagship Projects citing financial gains and false benefits to the people of Semirara and Antique for hosting the latest Metro Manila garbage dumpsite. No part of Antique province is for sale! The simple inhabitants of our beloved home province value our natural resources. They are the priceless treasures of a people born, raised, existing, and who hope to retire in old age to the natural beauty of the countryside, shielded from the pollution, chaos, bias, criminality, and immoralities typical of an urban setting. The people of Antique will not be deceived by fake promises, cosmetic justifications, misleading explanations, and manipulative tactics of a dishonest bureaucracy. We will not be intimidated by threats and pressure by the powers that be. We vow to protect our legacy.
3. We protest in the strongest terms the treacherous and devious manner in which the MMDA and GMMSWMC are trying to obtain government approval for the proposed Semirara dumpsite. Contrary to public pronouncements the people of Semirara, Caluya and the rest of Antique have not been consulted and are ill-aware of the perfidious plan. No adequate dissemination of public information was carried out. Instead, the confluence of events point to a deliberate intention to catch the locals folks unaware of what is going to happen at Semirara. It was by chance that a PAGTATAP member overheard at a brief morning news report the mention of the impending disaster such that in such a very short period this group was able to reach a number of people and organizations to mobilize an opposition contingent to the preposterous plan. Nothing was said by the dumpsite proponents of the risks and potential hazards of the proposed garbage dumping, such as ailments and human deformities that can be caused by toxins and organisms released into the drinking water, the air and the soil. Contamination of the water supply, the danger of spillage of garbage into the fishing grounds of the locals, the research findings on similar dumpsites worldwide are but some of the perils the Antiqueños are going to be inhumanly subjected to.
4. We find unacceptable the inability of the MMDA and the GMMSWMC to come up with more environmentally acceptable formula for the garbage problem. Instead, these agencies insist on antiquated, superficial, costly, inefficient, slow, ill-planned, environmentally damaging, and socially unacceptable solutions. Modern societies like Japan, Singapore and Germany have adopted techniques that have been proven as safe and acceptable, such as the Green Island or modern technology incinerators. We can learn from the methods of the more advanced nations.
5. We state our utmost concern over the bothering statements being attributed to the heads of the above two agencies that the dumping of garbage in Semirara Island is going to proceed despite the vehement opposition from the people of Antique. We denounce the reported paramilitary nature of the personnel of Semirara Coal Company (SCC) in the island of Semirara indicating intimidation, and the suspicious awarding of the garbage disposal contract to SCC which has a bad record of complying with environment requirements and social concerns. This tramples upon the rights of the local residents who deserve no less than to live in peace and simplicity free from duress and abuse by the oppressive city bureaucrats and the apathetic elite.
We hereby call for the attention, sympathy and support of our benefactors and brothers in government and other NGO’s and institutions who share our view and believe in our plight. HELP US NOW TO PUT A STOP TO THIS FORTHCOMING DESECRATION AND DEGRADATION OF OUR TERRITORY. LET US PRESERVE OUR NATURAL TREASURES. A PROBLEM IS NOT SOLVED BY CREATING ANOTHER. LET US PUT A STOP TO THE INSIDIOUS PLAN OF THE MMDA, GMMSWMC AND THE SCC. LET SEMIRARA LIVE!
WE PAGTATAP MEMBERS THIS DAY VOW TO CARRY ON THIS PROTEST TO THE END! FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN AND THE PRESERVATION OF OUR HERITAGE WE WILL RESIST THE SEMIRARA DUMPSITE PLAN WITH ALL OUR MIGHT!
For PAGTATAP FOUNDATION INC.
(SGD.) DR. ROBERT PETER D. ALOJIPAN
Chairman and President
Date: December 16, 2000