Shrine Hills not a ‘dumping site’ – environment group

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 Feb) – “Shrine Hills was not declared Urban Ecological Enhancement sub-Zone just to be a dumping site.”

Garbage at the Shrine Hills. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Davao Movement

This was the statement of Chinkie Pelino-Golle, executive director of the environmental group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) as they complained that a portion of the Shrine Hills has become a dumping site since last year.

Golle told MindaNews on Friday that the Shrine Hills must be protected from environmental degradation using a proper solid waste management.

She added that an estimated area of 200 square meters became the dumping site for various wastes such as organic matter, solids, plastics, and even hair residual from salons. Some of the garbage has already eroded downhill, Golle noted.

Under the 2013 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, the Shrine Hills has been classified as an “Urban Ecological Enhancement Sub-zone, or an area intended for massive greening program for ecological enhancement in major urban zones as precautionary and pro-active approach to climate change adaptation and part of risk reduction management against flooding, landslide and inundation as the edges and slopes of the ridge or hill are found to be highly susceptible to landslide.”

Golle said they have been seeking help from Barangay Matina Crossing since December last year but barangay officials have not yet acted on the waste issue.

“I hope that the barangay will take action on this waste issue in Shrine Hills. They should closely monitor the area and should not allow dumping of wastes there. I also call the attention of local residents and those who throw their garbage there, they should be responsible because it’s their wastes,” she noted.

In a Facebook post, the Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) lamented the dumping of wastes at the “public deck,” which also serves as a resting area for joggers, bikers, and devotees.

The group complained that the “area is now completely in awful odor” due to decaying organic materials.

Mixed-waste dumps, SDM said, emit methane, which the group said is carcinogenic. Unlike landfills with geofiltration sheets, small dumps causes leachate, toxics such as lead, mercury and others that infiltrate the soil and cause damage to soil fertility affecting micro-ecosystems and plant life, the group added.

“Micro plastic debris and particulates also deteriorate soil stability, leading to higher risks of erosion. Since the area is an inclined ridge, storm water runoff carries toxic residues to settlements and water bodies downhill, bringing pollution to a larger scope,” SDM pointed out.

It called on barangay officials and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) to take action immediately because “the scale of wastes is rapidly increasing as to its environmental risks.”

Golle said they would take this up during the scheduled committee hearing at the City Council on February 9 for the protection and management of Shrine Hills.

She said they are also advocating for a local policy that seeks to prohibit single plastic use.

“We have partners in the [SDM] that ate in-charge of it but IDIS is really supporting the campaign. It will help us lessen our plastic wastes and will also help us manage our wastes in the city,” she said.

Golle said they are recommending that local government agencies should take the lead in doing away with single-use plastics by prohibiting their use in their offices, organized activities and events to lessen wastes.

“There are a lot of options other than single use plastics. Instead, they should use the reusable materials and avoid producing more plastic wastes,” she said.

Golle said a total of 600 to 900 metric tons of daily garbage are being disposed at the seven-hectare city-owned sanitary landfill in New Carmen, Tugbok. It was opened in 2010. (Antonio L. Colina IV)