DENR: Improper waste disposal still rampant

Published by rudy Date posted on June 28, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Almost half of the cities and municipalities in the country have not complied with a law requiring them to dispose of their waste properly, data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed.

Citing a report from the National Solid Waste Management Commission which is under the DENR, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said 658 local government units (LGUs) nationwide had not complied with Republic Act No. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Act of 2001.

Phaseout

The law calls for the phaseout of open dumps in favor of sanitary landfills and the eventual phaseout of the landfills themselves. The law also stipulates the establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRF), where recyclable materials are sorted from garbage, in every barangay in the country.

There are around 1,600 LGUs around the country.

According to Atienza, the DENR is implementing a “three-strike policy” on LGUs with regard to RA 9003.

The DENR recently sent “first strike” letters to 1,042 LGUs. As of June, 658 LGUs had not carried out any measures to follow the law.

Atienza warned that LGUs that do not comply with the law would face charges.

First notices

“We cannot allow the continuing violations of RA 9003. As we have already announced, the three-strike policy is in effect. The first notices have been sent out, after which second notices will be sent,” he said.

After the final notice is ignored, Atienza said “we will just have to start filing charges (against the LGUs).”

But Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the environment group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) said the government’s policy on waste management was still geared toward disposal.

“The focus should be on the reduction of waste and recycling. The government’s policy on waste management is only moving when it works to the interest of a few, as in kickbacks in the establishment of sanitary landfills,” he said.

At present, there are 25 sanitary landfills being operated around the country with 24 more being developed.

Manny Calonzo of EcoWaste Coalition said LGUs were too quick to dismiss their waste management concerns by establishing landfills.

“The landfill craze undermines the real solution to the waste and climate crises. It’s a huge squander of resources that could have been used to support zero-waste programs,” he said.

Calonzo also batted for a review of the government’s program on waste management.

“We urgently need to rethink investments in waste prevention, reduction, recycling and composting programs,” he said.

Recently, the DENR said the number of MRFs had reached 4,260. But there are around 42,000 barangays in the country. –Alcuin Papa, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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