SEMIRARA DUMPSITE TRO UNLIFTED
Manila, Jan. 11, 2001 - The Court of Appeals yesterday refused to immediately lift the temporary restraining order issued by an Antique regional trial court against the Metro Manila Development Authority, which barred the agency from dumping garbage from the metropolis to a a landfill in Semirara Island in that West Visayan province.
Instead, the appellate court's 12th division set the case for hearing on Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Centennial Hall, and required the parties to be present to enable the Court to get both sides of the controversy before acting on the MMDA petition.
Likewise, the appellate court, in an order, directed respondents Antique Judge Nery Duremdes and United Antiqueños Against Garbage Dumping in Semirara Island to comment on the MMDA petition.
CA Justices Candido V. Rivera, Conchita Morales and Rebecca Salvador approved the scheduled hearing.
Judge Duremdes first issued a TRO against the use of Semirara as a dumping site which took effect Dec. 30, 2000 to Jan. 3. It was extended for 17 more days, or until Jan. 18.
Earlier, the MMDA, through the Office of the Solicitor General, sought the CA's intervention for the lifting of the Antique court's TRO, stressing "the need for an immediate solution" to the metropolis' garbage disposal problem following the permanent closure last Dec. 31 of the San Mateo landfill in Rizal province.
Semirara, which is expected to be able to take in 2,000 tons of wastes daily, was chosen as temporary landfill for two months, or until the government finds another dumping site.
In its petition, MMDA argued that the trial court erred in issuing the TRO, noting that under Presidential Decree 1818, government's infrastructure projects, including landfill projects, could not be subject of a restraining order.
It further argued that even the Supreme Court has affirmed the legality not only of the provisions of PD 1818 but also of Republic Act 7975, a law seeking to ensure the expeditious completion of government infrastructure projects by clipping the trial courts' power to issue TROs.
Since last Thursday, garbage from Metro Manila has piled up temporarily in Pier 18 in Tondo, Manila, ready to be shipped by barge to Semirara.
The TRO has prevented two barges now anchored off Semirara Island from dumping their cargo at the northern portion of Semirara. Aside from government lawyers, the protesting Antique residents, and representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are also expected to attend the Jan. 15 hearing. (By JAY B. REMPILLO)
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