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Second of two parts
CARMONA, Cavite - Romy Masungsong, a farmer at Bgy. Lantic, in Carmona's Sitio Paligawang Matanda, always looks forward to a heavy downpour.
It is not only because the rains are good for his crops. More importantly, it gives him and at least 50 other fami-lies a chance to collect water for their daily needs.
Otherwise, he said, they would have to spend at least P800 each a month for water that is delivered to them by truck.
Mr. Masungsong and the other residents of Bgy. Lantic actually live near the Mename and Manggahan rivers and more than 100 springs.
But while these rivers and springs are still flowing, these have become so contaminated with heavy metals like chromium, iron and lead that Lantic residents have stopped using the very same water supply that had served generations of their families.
"These heavy metals are the type of pollutants that build up in the food chain," said Greenpeace-Southeast Asia regional director Von Hernandez.
"Chromium and lead are toxic to human beings and aquatic life. Lead is a potent neurotoxin while chromium has been associated with various cancers and birth defects," he said.
The pollution of the rivers and springs here is only one of the painful legacies of a sanitary landfill that used to be in operation in the heart of Sitio Paligawang Matanda. The landfill was closed in 1998, or five years after it was opened on May 17, 1993.
Compared to open dump sites like that in Payatas, Quezon City or even controlled dump sites such as the ones planned in Mariveles, Bataan and Semirara, Antique, sanitary landfills are supposed to be a better way of getting rid of tons of trash.
After all, in landfills, the garbage is not only buried in a lined pit, it is also covered and then sprayed with chemicals.
The government, however, has a poor track record in maintaining landfills, resulting in ecological disasters such as what has happened here in Sitio Paligawang Matanda.