When me and my colleague went to a coastal dumpsite early today, the desperate experience i have had of how difficult life was when I was younger flashes back.
Although makeshift tents and houses made of garbage recycables, like sacks and used tires, is perhaps commonly seen in dumpsites communities, but the feeling of integrating in a place is different.
There in Rosario, Cavite–and any other dumpsite communities, you feel and see first hand how wide the gap of inequality between the rich and poor is.
You see them getting immuned to a stingy smell of garbage, harvesting leafy vegetables (kang kong) from a dumpsite’s swamps, children walking along a pile of garbage barefooted, amongst others. Not only the life in the dumpsite community is backward but desperate for survival.
The people’s livelihood, mainly garbage collecting and fishing, is threatened not only by health concerns of the dumpsite due to poor environmental conditions but of the bloating population of people whose resorting to garbage collecting as their only and last option to survive.
No proper toilet were built for shanties, villagers took water for drinking and cooking from deepwell close to dumpsite, fishermen fish few meters from the dumpsite’s coastal waters and villagers often rebuilt their shanties once they’re hit with huge waves due to tropical storms.
I was told Payatas situation is worst than what’s in there. For me, whether it is in Payatas dumpsite (Quezon City) or somewhere, it reflects how Filipinos are being denied of their constitutional rights to food, housing and livelihood. In particular of what is spelled out in the Social Reform Agenda and Poverty Alleviation Program (RA 8425).
Stories of hunger-related deaths of children, villagers getting sick due to poor environmental condition and hunger, absence of opportunities to uplift their lives other than scavenging–is far worst than we could imagine.
What is worst to having no options at all to survive but to scavenge?
Not only these people are deprive of their social and economic rights, obviously of the non-functioning social reform law or the non-implementation of it, these villagers are also threatened of their only means of survival. An influential person who is also an ally of a local politician is claiming the land they are occupying and where the dumpsite is located as his. The land is actually formerly part of the seawaters in the coast.
These people have no satisfaction of what they have. Their vicious greed threatens the scavenger people’s only means of survival. It’s unthikable but is happening in a democratic country like the Philippines. All these things are happening yet the government is turning a blind eye.
As i was extremely shock to what i have witnessed, I was more extremely shock of the people’s silence to fight back.