Political Science 167 TFW
A Term Paper Environment and Politics
Semester 2, AY 2007-2008
No? Or just not in my
The Dynamics of Opposition to the Proposed
Sanitary Landfill in Ternate, Cavite
Maria Graciela S. BASE
Alexis Ian P. DELA CRUZ
Fiel Aldous A. EVIDENTE
Mark Christian D. LUCIANO
Monica Leonila B. SIRON
BA Political Science
28 March 2008 University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 2
No? Or just not in my backyard?
The Dynamics of Opposition to the Proposed
Sanitary Landfill in Ternate, Cavite
The strong rejection faced by the proposed sanitary landfill in the Municipality
of Ternate in the Province of Cavite from its residents illustrates a classic
example of what has been termed a ‘not-in-my-backyard’ (NIMBY) attitude
against local development. Connelly and Smith (1999) argue that while this may
be the case, protesters are actually only opposed not to the principle of
development but only to where this development is to be sited: in their
backyards. The past two years has witnessed the actions (and reactions) toward
(and against) the establishment of the proposed Cavite landfill in Ternate, a
fourth-class municipality in the southwestern corner of the province.
The people of Ternate had mobilized to express their disapproval of the
planned sanitary landfill to be established in Sapang, one of its villages. The
emergence of such an environmental issue in Ternate brought about an influx of
concern about the environment in the municipality. This can be seen in the
establishment of various Ternate-based organizations and the formation of
networks of support with Ternateņos residing abroad, particularly in the United
States and in Canada. As of latest development the permits for the construction
of the landfill are suspended indefinitely. To this day, the fight to protect the
integrity, welfare and preservation of the town, which is a prime tourist spot and
fishing grounds of the province, continues – but under what principle? No to
landfill? Or just not in the Ternateņo backyard?
Keywords opposition, anthropocentric, ecocentric, stewardship,
environmentalist, NIMBY, NIMBYism, Ternate, ethics
THE MUNICIPALITY OF TERNATE is a fourth-class town in southwestern Cavite,
bordered to the east by the municipality of Naic, to the south and to the west by the municipality
of Maragondon and to the west by the Manila Bay. It occupies a total of 43.50 square kilometers
of territory. While fishing and agriculture make up most of the economy of the town, the
National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) classifies Ternate as a partially urban settlement
with a population of around 25,0001 (NSCB 2007). A prime tourist spot in Cavite, Ternate is
home to many resorts and a national park.
1 Projection for 2007. Latest and most accurate figures are still not available.
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But despite this rather idyllic setting, for the past two years, Ternate has been the stage of
many protest movements against the siting of a proposed landfill for Cavite in one of the
barangays of the town. While the Ternateņos had been firm in their opposition to the project
from the time news about it broke out, the proponents of the project have accused the
townspeople and hard-hitting environmental non-government organizations involved in the issue
of showing NIMBYist (not-in-my-backyard) attitudes.
NIMBY attitudes arise when a public facility (which everybody needs) needs to be
situated somewhere but no one wants it to be a neighbor. Typically, the facility is seen as a
disutility to the host district (Toyotaka 2005). Undeniably, when the landfill issue began in
Ternate, the opposition developed around initially NIMBYist undertones. More often, people
perceive that “the external cost and undesirable characteristics of landfills” pose hazards and
risks “which outweigh the long-term benefits” (Baxter et al. 1999 in Sener, Süzer and Doyuran
2006:377; Law 1992:171).
ON 16 JULY 2003, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cavite authorized Governor Erineo S. Maliksi to search for viable solutions
to the garbage problem of Cavite and start preliminary negotiations with interested project proponents. Governor Maliksi coordinated
with the Cavite Ideal International Construction and Development Corporation (CAVDEAL) for the preliminary evaluation of the
proposed construction of an Ecological Solid Waste Processing Facility. Consequently, the sanitary landfill project was given
to EnvironSave Inc., which immediately submitted a request for zoning clearance to the local government unit of Ternate. As
soon as the project was about to be started, local opposition surfaced. Mayor Conrado Lindo of Ternate among others argued
that the proposed site is within a tourist zone as per
Figure 1 Map of Cavite, focusing on Ternate
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Proclamation No. 1520 and that the site is within the buffer zone of the Mounts Palay Palay/Mataas na Gulod Forest Reservation.
The law also prevents the construction of any landfill within the area. A geological assessment of the proposed sanitary landfill
located within the quarry site of CAVDEAL in Ternate indicated that the area may not be suitable for theconstruction of a
dumpsite due to ground vibrations during earthquakes. The event of a geologic activity in the site could be potentially dangerous
since it is bounded by steep slopes and is likely to lead to possible landslides. This scientific report has been the basis
for confrontation with and challenge to government and industrial experts. Oppositionists further argue that a landfill is
not the solution to the Cavite garbage problem but the implementation of Sections 1-39 of RA 9003. The said law outlines the
proper ways of managing waste disposal, which include segregation at source, segregation at collection, composting, recycling,
reusing and reduction of garbage.
In addition, contrary to Governor Maliksi’s claim that the landfill will be another source of income for the
province, the return on investment is suspiciously inadequate to break even for the costs of the project considering that
supposedly, only residual wastes from Cavite shall be disposed of in the proposed landfill. Meanwhile, an international dimension
to the opposition emerged when in November 2006, some farmers from Barangay Sapang claimed that an 84-hectare site in the
area was being prepared to receive Japan’s wastes such as old appliances and electronic products, allegedly as part
of the provisions included in the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) (Philippine Senate 2007).
For these and a host of other reasons, various groups and individuals from different
sectors have raised their objections to the said project.
THE VARIOUS ACTORS IN THE OPPOSITION MOVEMENT
The Catholic Parish of Santo Niņo de Ternate
WHEN NEWS OF the proposed sanitary landfill to be established in Ternate, Cavite broke out sometime in the summer of 2006,
the Catholic Parish of Santo Niņo de Ternate, under the curacy of Rev. Fr. Gilbert L. Reyes, did not take the issue hands
down. The proposed sanitary landfill to
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be built in the municipality, Reyes claimed in the homily of a Mass in May 2006, was to endanger not only the rich natural
resources of the town but also the lives of the Ternateņos.
Almost immediately, Fr. Reyes and the Santo Niņo Parish Pastoral Council, in
cooperation with various Cavite-based environmental non-government organizations such as
Kalikasan Foundation, Cavite Greens and the Ternateņos Against Landfill Alliance (TALA) began mobilization of the townspeople
to oppose the establishment of the sanitary landfill. With the proponents’ alleged bribery of municipal Sanggunian
members, the odds were rising against the opposition movement. A series of protest actions and ‘parades’
were organized by the Parish and the NGOs to stall the establishment of the sanitary landfill, but the municipal government
remained adamant in its decision to push on with the project. The ecclesiastical opposition movement reached its high point
in December 2006 when the Diocese of Imus (to which the Parish of Santo Niņo de Ternate belongs) ordered its parish priests
to spread awareness and consciousness on the environment during the homilies of the Simbang Gabi masses that ran from 16 to
In a personal interview, Fr. Reyes asserts that the environment is a major concern of the Diocese of Imus. The Diocesan
Pastoral Plan for Evangelization (DPPE), which is a comprehensive program of action of the Catholic Church in Cavite, is built
on the following principles of “Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makabayan, Makabuhay at Makakalikasan” [Godly, Humane,
Nationalistic, Pro-life and Pro-Environment]. Affirming its commitment to upholding these principles, the Church, Reyes says,
would act on whatever is contrary to this philosophy, be it an individual, a company, or even a government.
The Parish, acting under the premise of stewardship, persuaded the Ternateņos to
seriously take on their roles as stewards of Ternate. This the Parish did through the institution of various awareness
programs; by inculcating in the townspeople the advantageous as well as adverse effects of such projects on the environment;
by enjoining the Diocesan Ministry on Ecology in addressing the issue; by engaging with NGOs and the youth through institutions
of education such as the De La Salle University at Dasmariņas, the Emilio Aguinaldo College and the Cavite National Science
High School; by bringing in people from other sectors into the rallies and consultations and most importantly; by preaching
and spreading environmental awareness through the Holy Mass.
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To further convince the Ternateņos to act as stewards of the environment, Fr. Reyes
substantiated the Parish’s no-to-landfill position by claiming that the environmental issues of Ternate “are
interconnected in the bigger sphere” and such pressing environmental problems as global warming and climate change
are not entirely separable to the landfill issue. Moreover, Fr. Reyes asserts that the Parish’s opposition to the
landfill is not only anchored from the fact that it is to be established in Ternate. The Parish also opposes the development
because of the lack of sincerity of the proponents in terms of religiously implementing the specified provisions of the Ecological
Solid Waste Management Law (or Republic Act no. 9003). In addition, he also draws on the past experiences of other local government
units in running landfill facilities in the Philippines, and none so far, he claims, can be considered a genuine success.
Closer to home, he points to the closure of the Carmona landfill as an example of how poor implementation and governance can
lead to the failure of any development originally geared towards addressing the problem of managing wastes. He also
alleges that the proponent of the landfill project, EnvironSave Inc. (a private firm) has no track
record in operating landfills.
For these and among other reasons, Fr. Reyes is firm in his stand that the Parish’s
opposition to the proposed sanitary landfill is not yet another case of NIMBYism and has
The moral tradition of stewardship has laid a substantive part of the philosophical
groundwork on the importance of protecting the environment. With origins from the Jewish
tradition, the stewardship moral tradition easily found its way into Christianity later on (Smith
1997 in Cowtan 2006: 2). Beabout and Schmiesing (2003: 89) further add that stewardship
“includes both the responsibility to take care of things that one has been
put in charge of—seeing to it that those things in one’s care are improved
rather than weakened or destroyed—and the responsibility to see to it
that those things in one’s care are used in ethical and socially appropriate
Creation is seen as God’s gift to humanity, and poor stewardship of this gift is explicitly
considered a sin (Bartholomew I 1997 in Van Houtan and Pimm 2006: 119). If the current trend
of increasing human footprint over the Earth does not change, then humans would be committing
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a serious offense to God. Science and religion, finally, converge on a particularly important
Although some religious greens object to the label ‘environmentalism’ in their advocacy,
some preferring ‘creation care,’ their approach is undeniably green. But while this may be the
case, environmentalists and religious greens still have considerable ideological differences,
making cooperation between the two rather uneasy (Greenberg 2006: 98). While religious greens
are now becoming obviously active in the environmental lobby, the biblical basis of their
advocacies, environmentalists allege, remains basically anthropocentric. Again, the primary
difference between the conservation of the environment for future generations and its
preservation for itself comes into play and hampers complete cooperation between the two
However, this had not been the case for the Santo Niņo Parish and Cavite-based
environmental NGOs. The Parish and the Kalikasan Foundation differed slightly in their beliefs
on the environment (basically the Parish was more anthropocentric in its stand and Kalikasan
Foundation more ecocentric), but this did not hamper cooperation or made it difficult, at the very
least. This shows that in issues requiring the most urgent attention, particularly those involving
the environment, even differences can be set aside in order to address more or less similar
On the other hand, environmental ethicists at the turn of the twentieth century argued
differently. Rolston affirms: “the moral has nothing to do with the natural” (1998: 124). He
claims that nature has no objective value and only humans appropriate these values and
consequently, generate human duties to it. In another article, he also argues that because of this,
nature can be considered as only being a social construct (Rolston 1997: 38). If humans fail to
discharge their duties to the environment, they are considered to have failed only by the moral
standard within which they have ascribed themselves.
To this, however, Rolston also counterposes to his earlier argument: “this biological
world that is also ought to be; we must argue from the natural to the moral [sic]” (1998: 124).
This and other similar arguments from other environmental ethicists have helped resuscitate
environmental advocacies the world over. The renewed awareness and concern over the
environment in society had also been utilized to the advantage of the landfill opposition
movement in Ternate, as had been noted earlier in this section.
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Motavalli (2002: 26) claims that there has been a renewed dynamism in church
(regardless of whether it be Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, etc.) leadership in spreading
awareness on environmental concerns. This dynamism is not only the monopoly of Christianity
but also of fervent Hindus, Buddhist and Muslims. In India, the issue on pollution has driven
many pious Hindus into more substantive action for the cleanup of the River Ganges. Clearly,
Motavalli asserts, the Church, as well as other faiths, has moved beyond green rhetoric and has
begun doing as it preaches.
In another essay, Rolston describes the emergence of an environmental ethic from an
environmental science that describes what is and an ethics that prescribes what ought to be (n.d.:
94). In this work he points out that in humans’ treatment of the environment and the ecosystem
one can find an inextricable “moral ought that is primarily ecological.” Thus, the trend towards
increasing environmental awareness and concern is heightened and translated into action as the
moral standard set by humans, which had so often been violated in the past centuries, make us
feel somehow guilty over our exploitation of the environment. Nature’s endowment of Homo
sapiens of a conscience explains much of the present manic over environmental issues (Rolston
Kalikasan Sa Kinabukasan At Kaunlaran Foundation
THERE WAS NO dramatic impetus for the emergence of the Kalikasan Foundation. Unlike
other green non-government organizations (NGOs) that are usually founded in response to an
environmental threat or problem, Kalikasan Foundation was born out of a simple desire of a
“group of golden ladies” to have something “to get busy with.” What was supposed
to be a
simple neighborhood meeting for an afternoon tea on 13 September 2003, gave birth to an
environmental group – the Kalikasan Sa Kinabukasan At Kaunlaran Foundation. At first they
thought of calling their organization the Puerto Azul Belles, but they eventually discarded the
idea because it “sounded somewhat girlish” and searched for something more “ethnic and
inspiring” that would appropriately capture the message of “preserving the ecology as a legacy
for the future, our children, and the development of the country” (Kalikasan 2005).
Initially, the group could only plan small projects like holding a “Zero Waste
Management” seminar and rehabilitating the gardens around the village due to meager resources.
Subsequently, with a growing support from the people, Kalikasan Foundation was able to come
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up with a series of activities, including the Earth Day Parade and the bougainvillea-fencing
project. Through Kalikasan Foundation’s efforts, the Philippine Wood Producers donated 3,000
seedlings to be used in greening Ternate. Kalikasan Foundation also started responding to
environmental problems that confront the town of Ternate. One of these problems is dynamite
fishing in the area. Kalikasan Foundation expressed its concern through a letter to the Provincial
Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), which fortunately elicited an immediate
response. Consequently, alternative livelihood projects like spirulina farming and seaweed
raising were started to discourage fishermen from illegal practices and augment fishing until the
sea can yield bountiful harvest.
The most significant environmental threat that confronted the town, however, was the
proposed establishment of a sanitary landfill in Barangay Sapang. For a group of women who are
keen on the beautification of Ternate, the unsightly vision of a dumpsite within their midst is a
serious concern indeed. When asked about where they stand – No or NIMBY – members of the
Kalikasan Foundation said they stand in both positions. They do not want the landfill to be set
up in their backyards and anywhere else. They believe that setting up a landfill is not the
ultimate solution as there are various alternatives for residual and toxic waste management.
The first move against the proposed dumpsite was a signature campaign to request a
dialogue with the local executives. Kalikasan Foundation sought to influence the formulation and
implementation of a public policy. Unlike some groups that are ideologically opposed to any
positive relationship with the government, Kalikasan Foundation wanted to set an example to the
community of Ternate as well as other communities in Cavite that the private sector can play a
meaningful role in supporting the government’s efforts in conserving the ecology of the country.
Hence, Kalikasan Foundation sought a collaborative partnership with the local government of
Cavite. It consulted with many authorities including Ternate Mayor Conrado Lindo and the
Sangguniang Bayan, Cavite Governor Erineo Maliksi, Vice Governor Jon-Vic Remulla,
Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Angelo Reyes and
many others. In this sense, Kalikasan Foundation operated within the existing formal procedures,
working through dialogue and consultation in a cooperative manner. It preferred to negotiate and
create a compromise in order to come up with an acceptable solution.
However, this moderate and conventional approach did not work. Hence, Kalikasan
Foundation sought the support of the leaders of many non-government organizations (NGOs),
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academic groups and grassroots organizations that were also concerned with the sanitary landfill
proposal. With the support of the Santo Niņo Parish Pastoral Council and all other organizations,
Kalikasan Foundation was able to gather hundreds of people in demonstrations they call
“parades” that aim to express a unified sentiment – “No to landfill!”
To keep the momentum of
environmental consciousness, Kalikasan Foundation also organized a concert entitled “Inang
Kalikasan, Pamana Sa Kinabukasan” where all leaders of the different NGOs, academic
organizations, and people’s organizations (POs) had the chance to declare their commitment to
the cause of conserving biodiversity through songs. These strategies were aimed at providing
obvious visible evidence of public support.
Another approach employed by Kalikasan Foundation was to develop its own solution to
the problem of solid waste disposal. Kalikasan Foundation launched the project called the
“Ternate Dream” to train all households on segregation, composting, and recycling, set up a
Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in each barangay, and build an Eco Park in the town. This
Eco Park has an MRF for recyclable waste, a composting facility for biodegradable, and a biodigesting
system that produces methane for fuel from non-recyclable waste. In an effort to
engage the townspeople in this project, Kalikasan Foundation initiated an Eco-Waste Orientation
program in Sapang Elementary school. With the aid of nursing students, Kalikasan Foundation
started an eco-waste management training of households and put up a contest for the cleanest
sitio. Through these programs, Kalikasan Foundation aims to prove that there are alternative
methods of processing residual wastes, making a landfill unnecessary.
Unlike some environmental groups that form as quickly as issues appear on the political
agenda and fade just as quickly as the issue in question disappears from the public view,
Kalikasan Foundation aims to continue its advocacy even in the absence of serious
environmental threats. Having observed that many people in the Philippines, from various
economic and social levels, are indifferent to environmental concerns has led Kalikasan
Foundation to work out bigger environmental friendly projects. Aspiring to “make a difference,”
and to make Ternate the first Eco-Town of the Philippines, Kalikasan Foundation came up with a
“going green” campaign. This particular slogan outlines the following:
(1) Change one’s way of thinking. Learn to adopt new technologies that are now
available to help improve our lives while protecting the environment.
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(2) Adopt Green strategies such as water recycling or switching from
incandescent lamps to the more efficient compact fluorescent lamps.
(3) Analyze Payback. Analyze the number of years it will take a strategy to be
(4) Consider health benefits. Consider improved health benefits when analyzing
the benefits of a particular strategy.
(5) Waste Management. “Going green” means proper Ecowaste Management
through waste segregation, recycling, composting, etc.
The “going green” campaign aims to change the people’s lifestyles. The common
principle behind lifestyle change argues that a change of consciousness leads to changes in
behavior at both the individual and community level. Fundamental change will occur when
‘sustainable thinking prefaces sustainable living’ (Bunyard and Morgan-Grenville 1987).
Through the “going green” campaign, Kalikasan Foundation sought to bring forth changes in the
patterns of individual behavior in daily life.
Ultimately, Kalikasan Foundation is guided by a more ‘ecocentric’ stewardship tradition,
which argues that humans have a dominion over the earth but only in so far as they are stewards
appointed by God to look after His creations. Kalikasan Foundation aims to join all people
together in the belief that the world is God’s gift to humanity. This view is reflected in the
following statement made by Kalikasan Foundation:
“All individuals and institutions have a mutual responsibility to act as
Trustees of Earth, seek the choices in ecology, economics, and ethics that
will eliminate pollution, poverty, and violence, foster peaceful progress,
awaken the wonder of life, and realize the best potential for the future of
the human adventure”.
This statement also suggests that Kalikasan Foundation prefers to work within the
existing political and economic order. It recognizes the capacity of technology to provide
solutions to the existing environmental problems while simultaneously engendering economic
development. Instead of viewing technology in negative terms, Kalikasan Foundation believes
that technology, when used appropriately, has the potential to aid the development of humanity
while making its impacts on the non-human world as little as possible. This faith in technology is
echoed in its campaign:
“Discover energy you didn’t know you had. Feel it rumble through the
grass roots under your feet and the technology at you fingertips. Channel
it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come”.
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This statement also reflects the principle of intergenerational justice, which argues that
the present generation has a strong obligation towards the future generations in terms of
resources, pollution and environmental damage, flora and fauna, biodiversity, wilderness, and so
on (Connelly and Smith 1999).
The Cavite Greens
THE CAVITE GREENS is a coalition of various civil society actors that pursue the green
agenda in the province of Cavite. Initially established as an alliance of organizations against the
Magallanes landfill (Alyansa Kontra Magallanes) in 1999, the coalition has become a fullfledged
green organization taking up environmental issues of all sorts in the province, advocating
environmental protection and instilling environmental consciousness among Caviteņos. Their
group, according to Ms. Eloisa Tolentino, current coordinator of the Cavite Greens and former
vice-mayor of Carmona, has been perennially conducting seminars on solid waste management.
For several years now, the coalition has been engaging in various campaigns, the green shirt
campaign among others, in a conscious attempt to promote green lifestyle.
Almost a decade after the successful yet grueling fight against the proposed landfill in the
town of Magallanes, the coalition is currently in a midst of a campaign against the construction
of yet another landfill. Now with more than 20 members, the coalition has been staunchly
opposing the proposed Ternate landfill project in the pristine southern tip of the province. The
Ternate landfill project, according to Tolentino, was proposed in July 2006. Through rallies and
awareness campaigns, the coalition, together with other oppositionists, was able to forestall its
construction for more than a year.
According to Tolentino, their opposition to the proposed Ternate landfill is not an
instance of NIMBY-based resistance. They oppose the landfill itself, not simply because it is to
be sited in their province. Tolentino argues that there has not been a single successful landfill in
the Philippines, and in fact, across the world. Having been into various landfills in nearby cities
and provinces, she pointed out that waste management facilities in our country are actually open
dumpsites improperly labelled as sanitary landfills. Why then build another dumpsite that will
probably do more harm than good? An open dumpsite masquerading as a sanitary landfill,
according to her, is simply not the solution to the burgeoning garbage problem.
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Setting personal/ideological reasons aside, Tolentino pointed out that the proposal to site
a landfill in Ternate is legally flawed. As mandated in R.A. 9003, she argues that the
construction of a landfill (Section 40), whether it be in Cavite or elsewhere, is supposed to be the
last resort, or the final option, after the first 39 sections of the Ecological Solid Waste
Management Law have been carried out. Before the landfill construction proper, a Municipal
Solid Waste Management Board and a Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee should be
established and a Materials Recovery Facility must also be constructed. A Waste Audit and a
host of other steps must be undertaken too. The provincial government of Cavite, which
according to her was the main proponent of the project, and the office of the mayor of Ternate,
unfortunately, are yet to implement Sections 1-39. Worst of all, the site of the proposed landfill,
according to Tolentino, is within a national park. The landfill cannot be constructed in the
proposed site for it is inside a protected area as indicated by global positioning system (GPS)
results. To corroborate her claims, Tolentino contends that the town of Ternate is the “only
remaining carbon sink in the province.” The consequences would be life-threatening if the
project pushes through.
There is strength in numbers. The success thus far enjoyed by the Cavite Greens is a
testament to this fact. Through concerted mobilizations and awareness campaigns, the coalition
has effectively turned the proposed Ternate landfill into a “burning issue” (Paez, 1997:52). With
the attention of the public focused on the project, the proponents, despite their overwhelming
resource and power advantage, have found it hard to steer things in their favor. The fight against
the Ternate landfill, however, is far from over. A series of developments may still occur to the
detriment of their cause. The Cavite Greens must remain vigilant and capitalize on people’s
awareness if they are to conclude the issue on a positive note.
The Concerned Citizens of Ternate (United States Chapter) (CCT-USA)
THE CONCERN FOR Ternate’s environment in the advent of the landfill issue was not confined
alone at the premises of the locality. Even Ternateņo expatriates, who maintain close ties with
the community even though they have lived out of the country for quite sometime now, played
their part in opposing the environmental issue that their hometown faces. As such, the Concerned
Citizens of Ternate – United States of America Chapter (CCT-USA) participated, even at a
distance, in the opposition movement to the proposed landfill project in Barangay Sapang.
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The CCT-USA is an informal group of Ternateņos currently residing at the United States.
The group is loosely organized on the basis of being residents of Ternate; the total number of
members are not well accounted for and the organizational structure is not clear. In short, the
CCT-USA is at most a band of Filipinos who gathered together to form a small community in a
foreign country. Although the group is hardly a formal organization, its members are definitely
united in their advocacies to concerning their hometown, especially during the height of the
The group’s contribution to the campaign against the landfill is primarily centered on
information dissemination. Its largest input to the movement against the proposed landfill was
the September 2007 rally, or what the local citizens would like to call as ‘parade’ so as to
neutralize the rather politically-charged term. During the said ‘parade’, the CCT-USA distributed
the first flyers containing various information regarding the Ternate landfill Issue. The flyers
were designed to inform and educate the people of Ternate about the adverse effects of the
landfill to the locality.
In line with this information drive, a member of the CCT-USA, Andy Huerto, has
published in his websites information regarding the landfill issue. News and updates on the
progress of the landfill project and the opposition to it are posted in these sites. Also found in
these websites are propaganda materials such as protest flyers, downloadable letters of petition to
stop the development of the landfill, and, among others, the open letter of protest to the
municipal mayor and the Sangguniang Bayan. The e-mail address of the DENR Secretary is also
shown in these sites to encourage viewers to directly send their letters of protest to the office of
the secretary. Although these sites were created in order to promote the vibrant culture and the
natural beauty of the town even before the issue of the landfill surfaced, the impending nature of
the landfill issue made it possible for these sites to eventually be transformed into primarily anti-
Ternate landfill websites.
Aside from the information dissemination campaign of the group, the CCT-USA has also
supported the anti-landfill campaign, financially. They partially contributed funds for the
transportation needs of the protesters and their food and drinks. The group has been encouraged
to focus its attention on the information dissemination aspect of the anti-Ternate landfill
campaign since the local group is already financially stable to support the rallies and other needs
of the local campaign.
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At a first glance, one would immediately notice that the CCT-USA is primarily centered
on the protection of their hometown, Ternate. Its battlecry in one of its websites, for example, is
very focused on the town: “Stop the Landfill Project in Ternate, Cavite.” The main reasons of
these Ternateņo expatriates for their opposition to the landfill, including the pollution of Manila
Bay where the local fisherfolk depend for a living and the negative image of Ternate as a
garbage depot, seem to fall under the NIMBY syndrome. In a way, this is true. For a group that
is promoting tourism in their hometown, a NIMBY attitude is necessary. However, looking at
their hometown from across a vast ocean halfway around the world made them adapt not just an
anti-Ternate landfill stance but also an anti-landfill position in general because even in the
United States, studies prove that landfills are not perfectly safe means of solid waste disposal.
The Local Government Unit of Ternate
PRIOR TO THE May 2007 national elections, Sangguniang Bayan Member Jayson Cabaņa
pursued the lone fight in opposing the siting of a sanitary landfill in Ternate, Cavite. A resident
of the municipality of Ternate himself, Cabaņa recounts in a personal interview how he was
converted from an initial approval of the proposal to a refusal of it by the pressure exerted by the
people and in response to a “call of conscience.” (Cabaņa 2008). The Councilor cites the adverse
environmental effects of the project and many violation of legalities (e.g., Proclamation No.
1520) to substantiate his claim.
Flanked by allegedly bribed colleagues and subjected to a scheme described by Cabaņa
as ‘moro-moro,’ he sought refuge in the Church’s decisive influence on the people of Ternate.
With Rev. Fr. Gilbert Reyes’ active guidance, he was able to urge the townspeople to make their
opposition to the landfill be made strongly felt by the local government. In his words:
“kalampagin ang LGU.” [Exert pressure on the LGU (or local government unit).] Through such
prodding, says the local official, protest rallies and several other strategies of opposition were
carried on by the broad network of Ternateņos coming from the church, local environmental
groups and non-affiliated residents.
In his own capacity as Member of the Sangguniang Bayan, Cabaņa consulted with the
Philippine Tourism Agency (PTA) to learn about the status of the project. In so doing, he was
informed that under Proclamation No. 1520, the proposed site is a tourist zone; consequently,
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 16
under Presidential Decree No. 564, no siting of a landfill shall be allowed in such area. Cabaņa
also brought this concern to the attention of the DENR through a letter.
Hesitantly admitting to being the first to oppose the landfill in the Sanggunian, Cabaņa
argues that even without the release of an explicit statement of his fellow councilors in approval
of the plan, the townspeople harbored little doubts as to their inclination. To justify this, he
points to glaring lack of interaction between his fellow officials and the people. “Hindi sila
nakikihalubilo” [They (referring to the other Sangguniang Bayan members) do not mingle with
the people], claims the councilor.
The results of the May 2007 elections, though, led to a form of turncoatism in as far as
the landfill issue is concerned. Cabaņa says that the staggering decrease in the number of votes
received by fellow councilors who sought reelection, provided a much-needed reality check on
the officials’ part. Very near to shying away from getting reinstated, the anxious officials
realized how crucial their stand to the landfill issue has now become. Gradually, they switched
As of this writing, the Sanggunian has been able to effectively deflect the petition for an
ordinance submitted by the people. By making it seem that they were unable to act on the
petition within the 30-day ultimatum (set by the Local Government Code), the local board paved
the road for the petition’s way towards the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Cabaņa—
now speaking rather out of pride about his fellow councilors—clarifies that they opted to resort
to inaction since the COMELEC is a relatively easier and better venue to pursue by manner of
the ordinance’s enactment. Further, he notes that had they decided to act on it, and by following
the lawful process, submitted it to the Provincial Board for approval, the petition would be
quashed. Throught the COMELEC, petitioners can catalyze the process by acquiring the
signatures of three percent (3%) of each barangay’s population and at percent (10%) of the entire
municipality. Cabaņa noted that with a population of roughly 12,000, an aggregate of 1,200
signatures is not a far shot; in fact, it would be effortless. And effortless it proved to be, as the
petitioners had already mustered the required number of signatures. The burden of responsibility
now lies on the COMELEC to verify the gathered names and call for a referendum, continues the
Asked whether he would still be opposed to the landfill if it were sited elsewhere, Cabaņa
says, “No. Di naman talaga ako against sa landfill eh. Kailangan lang humanap ng suitable
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 17
place. At hindi iyon dito sa Ternate” [I am not totally against landfills. Only that, a suitable site
must be identified. And that is not Ternate.] Cabaņa backs this up by citing Section 40 of R.A.
9003, which provides for the creation of sanitary landfills (when certain requisites are met).
Also, he quips that it would not also be pleasant to have Ternate’s trash strewn around the area—
reason why a landfill is needed.
Cabaņa and his fellow councilors provide an interesting argument for how a position to a
pressing environmental issue can risk the stake of political survival. Whether or not these
officials would still oppose the landfill project had they not won by the slightest of margins
remains a curious question to ask. Here we witness a graphic depiction of the interplay of politics
and the environment. Indeed, the particular way a political system is defined bears a strong
impact on the scope and effectiveness of environmental issues (Doyle and McEachern 1998). In
a liberal-democratic regime, for instance, there is a significant scope for those concerned about
environmental issues to have their voices heard and to try to influence the political process; by
contrast, authoritarian regimes especially those committed to rapid development, do not allow for
much space for environmental causes, even for loyal supporters of the regime.
Assessment and Conclusion
After looking at the various actors involved in the opposition to the proposed sanitary
landfill in Ternate, different significant points for consideration have emerged. The case of the
opposition, whether it be based on a firm No or NIMBY, was nevertheless able to garner the
support of many sectors of Caviteņo society. Although the struggle against the project is still far
from over, the combined efforts of the different groups and individuals can be considered a
positive development in as far as espousing environmental awareness in the area is concerned.
In the case of the Parish of Santo Niņo de Ternate, the Parish, using its important stature
in Ternateņo society and its role as its conscience, touched on the conscientious sensitivities of
its parishioners to mobilize against the establishment of the proposed sanitary landfill. Fr. Reyes
utilized his vital position as the ecclesiastical authority of Ternate to convince the townspeople to
seriously take on the role of stewards of the pristine environment of the municipality. As a result,
the opposition movement did not only consolidate support for it. By enlisting the backing of the
Church in Ternate, the opposition movement effectively found a basis for the legitimacy and
appropriateness of its actions.
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 18
Meanwhile, the growth of environmental problems worldwide has been associated with
the emergence of a new type of actor – the environmental NGOs. The rise of environmental
NGOs in developing countries can be seen as a reflection of the growing power and assertiveness
of civil society vis-ā-vis the state (Bryant and Bailey 1997). However, many Third World
environmental NGOs are often organized out of the livelihood concerns and interests of local
communities that have been threatened with environmental degradation arising from actions of
states and businesses. An important implication of such a context is that the people in these
countries seek to manage environmental resources in a sustainable manner, not so much because
they necessarily have a greater ‘respect’ for their environment, but rather because their
livelihoods depend on the maintenance of those resources (Murdoch and Clark 1994). It has been
argued that in poorer parts of the world, environmental concerns are ‘luxury concerns’. If
environmental movements do occur, they are still premised on the old survival/security
Hence, in a developing country such as the Philippines, it is quite interesting to learn that
there are already segments of the population whose concern for the environment was driven
more by quality of life issues rather than the basic issues of survival and security. The founding
members of Kalikasan Foundation comprise a group of ‘sedated’, affluent and well-educated
women, whose fondness for organic vegetables and desire to get rid of their idle hours,
transformed them into environmental activists. Contrary to the notion that environmental NGOs
in developing countries often develop out of livelihood concerns, the establishment of Kalikasan
Foundation as an environmental group is in line with the Post-materialism thesis. This argument
states that when the more basic needs of safety and security are fulfilled, parts of society are able
to pursue higher and more luxuriant causes, those beyond material existence (Doyle and
McEachern 1988). Post-materialist values could thus be seen as a major factor in the emergence
of Kalikasan Foundation.
The various actors involved in the opposition movement have employed different tactics
and strategies to block the establishment of a landfill in Ternate. These forms of action range
from the more conventional approach of lobbying, writing letters and petitions to government
officials and bureaucrats, and preparing scientific research and reports, through to the more
informal approach of disseminating information via campaign paraphernalia, organizing
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 19
demonstrations and marches, getting access to the media, and providing their own solution to the
But what can be considered a unique move of the opposition was the filing of a local
initiative that proposes the enactment of a municipal ordinance declaring Barangay Sapang as a
tourist and ecological zone and prohibiting the construction of a landfill in the area. TALA,
Kalikasan Foundation, and Cavite Green Consortium, Inc.,2 sponsored the initiative. This form
of action is rarely utilized, but it is in fact a significant device of direct democracy that enables
people to decide issues themselves and raise their grievances.
To strengthen their oppositional agreements, the opposition camp has repeatedly
capitalized on various laws (e.g. Presidential Proclamation No. 1520, Presidential Decree No.
564, Proclamation No. 1594, R.A. 8749, R.A. 9275, and R.A. 9003), Supreme Court rulings (e.g.
Oposa vs. Factoran), and constitutional provisions (e.g. legal doctrine of intergenerational
responsibility provided for in Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution), that are
contradicted and violated by the proposed landfill.
Ultimately, the use of different methods and approaches, the broad network of support for
the advocay as exemplified by the participation of Ternateņo expatriates in the local movement,
and the utilization of available technology, i.e. the Internet, contributed to the strength of the
opposition to the proposed Ternate landfill.
Clearly, the various groups had differing perspectives as to the basis of their opposition
(i.e., no or NIMBY). Some, like Kalikasan Foundation, claims both to be the basis of their
opposition. The instrumental view of nature, where nature is protected for the sake of human
beings is a dominant theme (making this view anthropocentric), is used to convince people,
particularly those of Ternate and the adjoining municipalities, to join the opposition. The
NIMBY basis of opposition nevertheless was able to attract support for the advocacy movement
even if opposition on the basis of this can possibly not cover environmental issues beyond
On the other hand, those who are in opposition to the project in principle (i.e., not only in
location), interestingly, found themselves not being able to do away with NIMBYism since this
would attract more common people to their cause. As the ordinary layman does not appreciate
the lofty ideals upheld by the leaders of environmental NGOs and other hardcore
2 The Cavite Green Consortium, Inc. is different from the Cavite Greens.
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 20
environmentalists, the latter have had to resort to more practical and realistic arguments that
would make more sense to the masses. In fact, all the laws invoked by these environmentalists
emphasize Ternate’s status as a tourist zone and a host to a number of eco-tourist and travel
destinations (e.g. Puerto Azul Golf and Country Club, Caylabne Bay, and Caylabne Retirement
Village). In this sense, environmental conservation is portrayed not as an end in itself, but rather
as a means to various economic ends. This case, however, is not unique to Ternate. As a matter
of fact, tourism has virtually become a lucrative industry in the third world, with eco-tourism
being one of the most rapidly growing sectors within that industry (Cochrane, 1996).
As a result, these environmentalists had to set aside or even water down the essence of
their advocacy, which is to protect the environment for itself and not only for the use of humans.
But in the long run, even if the opposition is premised on a firm no or NIMBY, unity in a
common goal (i.e., to block the establishment of a landfill) helps to address the most urgent issue
at hand. Given the involved actors’ scant resources and largely outsider status (except for the
LGU), fundamental differences had to give way to cooperation and the formation of a coalition3.
Forming an ‘umbrella group’ is in fact an effective strategy as much can be achieved from
campaigning collectively rather than independently on the same issue (Connelly and Smith
1999). Whether the opposition is based on no or NIMBY is still not a serious concern. Presently,
what matters is the expansion of the support base of the opposition movement against a clear
Cabaņa’s case provides an interesting illustration of how a supposedly ‘low politics’ issue
such as the landfill project is at great odds of being carelessly implemented when put in the face
of the ‘high politics’ agenda. However, when ‘the environmental’ learns to play
the game of
politics and is able to distinctly assert its claims, ‘the political,’ in particular the agency of
government, finds itself having to deal with the former seriously. As shown by the case of the
Sangguniang Bayan of Ternate, ‘the political’ is hardly given any choice: it gives in to ‘the
3 Refer to Appendix A.
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 21
Boren, Carmela (2008). Personal Interview. 2 February 2008. Ternate: Kalikasan
Foundation Headquarters, Mira Hills, Puerto Azul.
Cabaņa, Jayson (2008). Personal Interview. 3 February 2008. Ternate: Cabaņa
Huerto, Andy (2008). Email Interview. 27 January 2008.
_____________ (2008). Email Interview. 15 March 2008.
Redding, Lita (2008). Personal Interview. 2 February 2008. Ternate: Kalikasan
Foundation Headquarters, Mira Hills, Puerto Azul.
Reyes, Gilbert L. (2008). Personal Interview. 27 January 2008. Ternate: Santo Niņo de
Ternate Parish Church.
Tolentino, Eloisa (2008). Personal Interview. 2 February 2008. Dasmariņas: Mocha
Blends, SM City Dasmariņas.
Tupasi-Ramos, Thelma (2008). Personal Interview. 2 February 2008. Ternate: Kalikasan
Foundation Headquarters, Mira Hills, Puerto Azul.
Vallesfin, Annaliza (2008). Personal Interview. 12 January 2008. Ternate: Vallesfin
_____________(2008). Personal Interview. 8 February 2008. Ternate: Kalikasan
Foundation Headquarters, Mira Hills, Puerto Azul.
Books and Book Chapters
Bryant, Raymond and Sinead Bailey (1997). Third World Political Ecology. London:
Bunyard, P. and F. Morgan-Grenville (Eds.) (1987). The Green Alternative. London:
Cochrane, J. (1996). “The sustainability of ecotourism in Indonesia: fact and fiction”.
Environmental Change in South-East Asia: People, Politics and Sustainable
Development. M.J.G. Parnwell and R.L. Bryant, Eds. London: Routledge.
Connelly, James, and Graham Smith. (1999) Politics and the Environment: From Theory
to Practice. London and New York: Routledge.
Doyle, Timothy and Doug McEachern (1988). Environment and Politics. London:
Law Hieng Ding (1992). “Role of Donor/International Agencies, International Banking
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in the Coastal Areas of the ASEAN Region: Roles of Governments, Banking
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and Len R. Garces, Eds. Manila: Singapore Ministry of the Environment et al.
Paez, P. (1997). “Focus on the legislative.” State-Civil Society Relations in Policymaking.
Wui, M. & Lopez, M.G., Eds. Quezon City: University of the
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Rolston, Holmes III (1997). “Nature For Real: Is Nature A Social Construct?” The
Philosophy of the Environment. T.D.J. Chappell, Ed. Edinburgh: University of
___________(1998). “Challenges in Environmental Ethics.” Environmental Philosophy:
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___________(2003). “Environmental Ethics.” The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy.
2nd ed. Nicholas Bunnin and E.P. Tsui-James Eds. Oxford: Blackwell
Professional Journals and Miscellaneous Articles
Beabout, Gregory R. and Kevin E. Schmiesing (2003). “Socially Responsible Investing:
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Cowtan, Kevin (2006). The Impact of Environmental Ethics on Christian Ethics.
Greenberg, Nadivah (2006). “Shop Right: American Conservatisms, Consumptions and
the Environment.” Global Environmental Politics. 6(2):85-111. Boston:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Motavalli, Jim (2002). “Stewards of the Earth: The Growing Religious Mission to
Protect the Environment.” E: The Environmental Magazine. 13(6): 24-29.
Murdoch, J. and Clark J. (1994) “Sustainable Knowledge”. Geoforum 25, 115-32.
Philippines, Republic of the. Senate (2007). “Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership
Agreement (JPEPA): An Assessment.” Policy Brief. PB 07-01. Pasay: Senate
Economic Planning Office.
Rolston, Holmes III (n.d.). “Is There an Ecological Ethic?” Ethics. Denver: Colorado
Sener, Basak, M. Lüfti Süzen and Vedat Doyuran (2006). “Landfill site selection by
geographic information systems.” Environmental Geology. 49:376-388. n.p.:
Toyotaka Sakai (2005). A Normative Theory for the NIMBY Problem. Retrieved from
Google Scholar, 27 March 2008. New York: University of Rochester.
Van Houtan, Kyle S. and Stuart L. Pimm (2006). “The Various Christian Ethics of
Species Conservation.” Lodge. 4: 116-147. Cambridge: Oxford University
Kalikasan Sa Kinabukasan At Kaunlaran Foundation (2006). Annual Report 2005-2006.
_____________(2007). Annual Report 2006-2007. n.p.:n.p.
Base, M.G., A.I. Dela Cruz, F.A. Evidente, M.C. Luciano and M.L. Siron (2008). No?
Or just not in my backyard? The Dynamics of Opposition to the Proposed
Sanitary Landfill in Ternate, Cavite. A Video Presentation, Political Science
167 TFW class, 2nd Semester AY 2007-2008. Ternate and Dasmariņas, Cavite.
Philippines, Republic of the. National Statistical Coordination Board. Municipality:
TERNATE. Retrieved from <http://www.nscb.gov.ph>, 26 March 2008.
_____________. Province of Cavite (2007). Ternate, Cavite. Retrieved from
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BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 23
The Green Coalition
Kalikasan sa Kinabukasan at Kaunlaran Foundation
Ternate Against Landfill Association
Concerned Citizens of Ternate-USA
Sto. Niņo de Ternate Parish Pastoral Council
Ecological Commission Diocese of Imus, Cavite
Cavite Green Consortium Inc.
Cavite Green Coalition
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
World Vision Development Foundation
Eco Waste Coalition
Samahang Sagip Kalikasan
Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran
Mga Assosasion ng mga Ina
Federacion ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda
Naic and Maragondon Fish Sanctuary and Management Team
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
Concerned Citizens of Maragondon
Dela Salle University Community Development Center
Emilio Aguinaldo Colleges Dasmariņas Campus
Polytechnic University of the Philippines Maragondon Campus
Cavite Science High School
Ternate Central Elementary School
National High School
Sapang Elementary School
Cavite Westpoint College
Mira Hills Village Homeowners Association
Ocean Villas Homeowners Association
BASE et al.: No? Or just not in my backyard? 24
Local Initiative by the
People of the Municipality of Ternate
Opposing the Establishment
of a Proposed Sanitary Landfill
in Barangay Sapang I, Ternate, Cavite