Following the directive of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to strictly enforce Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, a sanitary landfill facility (SLF) in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan has been closed for failure to address violations within the set deadline.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Environmental Management Bureau-Region 1 Director Maria Dorica Naz-Hipe, together with DENR local officials, served the cease and desist order (CDO) to stop the operation of the Urdaneta City Engineered Sanitary Landfill (SLF) in Barangay Catablan, Urdaneta City on Friday (March 5).

Last January, the 18,000-square meter SLF has been issued two CDOs for violations of environmental laws, which include RA 9003 and RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda, who made a surprised inspection of the site on January 27, gave the management of the Urdaneta SLF until February 2021 "to implement the improvements, such as constructing a water treatment facility, siphoning the garbage seepage, and identifying an ideal new cell, among others."

Antiporda even personally met with Urdaneta City Mayor Julio F. Parayno III and advised them to rehabilitate their SLF. “Magtulungan tayo. Tutulungan namin kayo para maging model ang Urdenata City sa solid waste management especially on SLF,” he added.

However, during a follow up inspection conducted on March 1 by the DENR regional office, it was found that the Urdaneta SLF has still not complied with the DENR order. There was no action taken by the local government unit.

Antiporda said the engineered SLF "was given a grace period to correct the necessary violations, but they were not able to do so."

"With the marching order of DENR Secretary Cimatu to close all dumpsites by end of March, the demand for SLFs increased significantly in several areas across the country. SLFs are a better alternative to open dumpsites, but this does not guarantee that they will be given the permit to operate right away," he said.

"We want to send a strong message to all those who take the reminders for granted. We assure the public that we will remain vigilant so we will be able to protect the Filipino people and the country’s environment," he added.

Around 169 open dumpsites are still operating across the country, based on DENR data.

To date, 107 open dumpsites have been closed down following Cimatu's directive to close all open dumpsites by end of March. #