Mindanao ‘much better’ in easing garbage woes — exec

PASAY CITY (MindaNews/ 27 June) — Compliance to Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 is “much better” in Mindanao than in Luzon and the Visayas, the two other major island groupings in the Philippines, a senior government official said.

RA 9003 requires local government units to close open dumpsites by 2006 and replaced them with sanitary landfill facilities.

Wastes, including plastic, litter the coast of Freedom Island that forms part of Manila Bay as seen on June 23, 2018. MindaNews photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Engineer Eligio Ildefonso, chief of the Solid Waste Management Division of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said that 50 local government units across the nation allegedly violated the act.

More than 600 local executives, including mayors and vice mayors, were included in the complaint sheet filed at the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman, he said.

“We will file 160 additional cases against LGUs that continue to violate RA 9003,” Ildefonso recently told journalists attending here a two-day media workshop on plastic pollution organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

Ildefonso, who is also acting executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Council Secretariat, noted that Mindanao is faring well in the implementation of RA 9003 compared to Luzon and the Visayas.

Many areas in Regions 11 (Southern Mindanao), 9 (Western Mindanao) and 12 (Soccsksargen) have completed their 10-year solid waste management plans, he said.

In Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), however, at least 10 officials from Cagayan de Oro City, including Mayor Oscar Moreno, have been charged before the Ombudsman for allegedly violating the solid waste management act, according to Ildefonso.

Based on data provided by the EMB, Butuan City in Agusan del Norte, San Jose town in Dinagat Islands and Surigao City in Surigao del Norte violated some provisions of their environmental compliance certificates.

While “majority of Mindanao” is complying with RA 9003, Ildefonso said there’s a need to put up more recycling facilities in the southern Philippines to better address the island’s garbage problem.

Recycling facilities, especially for plastics, are mostly located in the National Capital Region, particularly in Valenzuela City,

The Philippines has 17 regions — eight in Luzon, three in the Visayas and six in Mindanao.

Ildefonso urged the public to reduce consumption of products contained in single-use plastics, and to reuse or recycle waste materials, to ease the country’s mounting garbage problem.

Juvinia Serafin, EMB senior environment specialist, said that of the over 1,300 LGUs across the country, excluding the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, there are only 139 sanitary landfills servicing a total of 308 LGUs.

There are still 425 illegal disposal sites in the country, she added.

For this year, Serafin said the country is estimated to produce 43,684 tons of waste daily, 9,878 tons from Metro Manila where about 14 million people live.

Plastic wastes were estimated to comprise about 11 percent, or some 4,608 tons, of the national daily garbage generation in 2018, data showed.

Angelica Carballo Pago, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines media campaigner, called on companies to eliminate or reduce the production of single-use plastic products, particularly those packaged in sachets or small packets, in a bid to break free from plastic pollution.

“Such move must be part of their corporate social responsibility,” she said, stressing these big companies headquartered in richer countries must be held accountable for producing single-use plastic products patronized mostly by low-income earners in developing countries. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)