Pandan Antique Philippines

Appeal to CNN, NBC and DATELINE

January 4, 2001



I am the spokesperson for Pandan Antique Foundation, Pagtatap USA and Pagtatap Philippines, organizations formed by natives of Pandan, Antique, Philippines, who are scattered all over the world.

We have a big problem right now that is mainly national but could very well be an international concern. It is about Semirara, a small island of Antique province that is being targeted as a dumpsite for Metro Manila’s garbage despite signed protests from the islanders and all the municipalities of the province of Antique.

Semirara Island is approximately 385 kilometers away from Manila. It takes two to three days for barges carrying 4000 tons of daily garbage to reach Semirara. Our organizations’ opposition revolves around the adverse impacts of air, waste and land pollution from poor waste management on the health of the people and on the environment of Northwestern Panay, the lack of consultation with the people of Antique, and the absence of a concrete plan for consideration and approval by the local government units. Likewise, the island is a marine turtle sanctuary and the neighboring island, Caluya, is a bird sanctuary (Ministry of Natural Resources No. 34, series of 1982).

The very disturbing turn of events is that despite the unanimous opposition of the people of Antique as evidenced by signed petitions and resolutions at the two public hearings conducted on December 15 and December 22 in San Jose, Antique (the capital of the province), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) defied the people’s mandate and attempted to take Manila’s garbage to Semirara on December 29. Hundreds of trucks carrying the 4000 tons of garbage were headed to Pier 18 in Manila where barges were waiting for loading. It was our Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that saved the day for us in the nick of time.

The situation is very serious because MMDA Chairman Jejomar Binay and Secretary Robert Aventajado of the Presidential Committee on Flagship Projects are the masterminds in this Semirara dumpsite proposal. They wield so much political power that they are acting above the law. Our TRO was only good for 72 hours, which was until January 2. While another TRO was being filed for extension, a barge full of garbage already left Pier 18 in Manila for Semirara last night and other barges are being loaded to follow suit.

So what happened to due process under the law? Antique province is one of the ten poorest provinces in the Philippines and Semirara is just a dot on the world map (if it is worth showing) that the residents are so insignificant and expendable. To top it all, the current impeachment trial of President Estrada is overshadowing the media coverage we are trying to obtain to support our crusade. Our Semirara dumpsite issue is insignificant compared to the trial.

The United Antiqueños are planning on using pumpboats and a people blockade to stop the landing of the barges. We were able to obtain another TRO yesterday that is good for 17 days, but our resistance forces are too small compared to the MMDA’s political clout and its 120 paramilitary soldiers who are on standby on Semirara to intimidate protesters and to facilitate the landing of the barges.

In this instance, the underprivileged rights to self-preservation and equality under the law are not being respected and upheld. Please help us by airing our concerns and getting television footage on the Semirara scene for the world to see. You r coverage on the Semirara issue might be able to help us turn the barges around and eventually help us protect the islanders from further exploitation.

We are a small group facing a formidable enemy. We are therefore grasping at straws to keep us afloat. If you help us, you would not be just a straw—you will be our much-needed lifeline. For expediency and a more accurate account of the situation, here are two people’s e-mail addresses that you may contact in the Philippines: and These two are members of our organization who are in charge of mobilizing and coordinating our resistance units in Manila and in Antique province.

We will greatly appreciate whatever help you can extend to us. Thank you.

Truly yours,

PRO, Pandan Antique Foundation