GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 August)– South Cotabato province’s pioneering cluster sanitary landfill has been chosen by the Galing Pook Foundation as one of the 10 leading innovative local government-led initiatives for this year.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Monday the landfill facility in Surallah town was selected over the weekend as among the winners for the Ten Outstanding Local Governance Programs category of the 2014 Galing Pook Awards.
Fuentes led the final presentation of the initiative in Manila last Friday to Galing Pook’s national selection committee.
She said the cluster sanitary landfill was included in the shortlist of 17 best local government programs that may vie for the prestigious 2014 Galing Pook awards following an onsite evaluation last June.
“While on our way home, I received a text message from the organizers congratulating us for winning the Galing Pook (award),” she said during the provincial government’s regular flag-raising ceremony.
The governor said the award will be formally conferred in October by President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Malacanang Palace.
The six-hectare cluster sanitary landfill, which is located in Barangay Colongulo in Surallah town, opened in June last year and presently serves six municipalities within the province’s upper valley area.
The upper valley area comprises the municipalities of Surallah, Norala, T’boli, Sto.Nino, Banga, and Lake Sebu.
The project was launched in late 2008 after the six local governments units (LGUs) signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of a common sanitary landfill in compliance with the provisions of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
The provincial government of South Cotabato and the six LGUs spent around P14 million for the landfill’s construction and development.
The United States Agency for International Development-funded Philippine Environmental Governance Project assisted the provincial government and the LGUs in designing the clustering strategy, assessing and selecting the site and in preparing the landfill’s engineering design.
Fuentes said the project received the nod of Galing Pook’s national selection committee because of its unique design and innovative system of implementation.
“It is the first functioning cluster sanitary landfill in the country and it is generating income or self-sustaining in terms of operations,” she said.
She said they made sure that the project’s implementers, especially the personnel or workers, are well-equipped and capable of running and sustaining its operations despite the changes in the area’s political landscape.
“That is a system that we’re actually trying to institutionalize in the province — that projects or development initiatives will not be dependent on the politicians,” the governor said.
Siegfred Flaviano, South Cotabato Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) chief, said the cluster sanitary landfill is so far the only facility of its kind that caters to residual wastes.
He said that since the landfill caters primarily to residual wastes or non-decaying materials, the six LGUs were prompted to improve and expand the operations of their material recovery facilities as well as promote composting at the household level.
Flaviano said the adoption of the cluster concept for the sanitary landfill mainly spared the six LGUs from spending as much as P12 million each should they opt to construct their own landfill facility.
He said LGUs in some areas even spent around P200 million for the development of a single sanitary landfill.
The operationalization of the cluster sanitary landfill also helped strengthen the implementation of the solid waste management programs at the municipal level, he said.
The provincial government initially endorsed the project to the 2013 Galing Pook Awards but failed to land in the top 10 after making its shortlist of 23 finalists.
In 2008, an environmental body supported by the provincial governments of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat was chosen as among the top winners then of the Galing Pook awards.
Dubbed Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance, the multi-sectoral body mainly oversees continuing rehabilitation of the environmentally critical Allah Valley watershed, the Allah River system and its environs. (MindaNews)