More disposable face masks and plastic waste recovered in river clean-up  

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 August) — An environmentalist group is urging the local government to create a mechanism to regulate the entry of people to the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed after recovering more disposable face masks and assorted plastic waste due to the unregulated and unmonitored recreational activities that are making the city’s next water source a “trash bin.”

Atty. Mark Peñalver, Executive Director of Interface Development Intervention for Sustainability (IDIS), told MindaNews on Saturday that the waste problem would not be solved if these activities are tolerated.

More discarded disposable face masks and assorted plastic waste were recovered at the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed during a clean-up on Friday, 13 August 2021. Photo courtesy of IDIS

During a clean-up drive conducted by IDIS and Bantay Bukid Volunteers on Friday, a total of 80 disposable masks, one bottle of fungicide, 36 plastic cups, cigarette packs, and large amounts of various sachets of shampoo, junk food, and detergents were recovered in the watershed.

Last Tuesday, the City Council passed an ordinance authored by 2nd District Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr.,  chair of the Committee on Environment, regulating recreational activities within the watershed areas of the city for the protection, conservation, and preservation of the natural environment.

Pending the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations, he said local government must immediately regulate the number of people entering the watershed and ensure the implementation of  Republic Act 9003, also known as the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,” and Davao City Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance as the “threat to our watershed continues.”

“In the meantime, while waiting for that ordinance to be enforced, the LGU in coordination with the barangay should ensure that these violators are apprehended, if not create a mechanism that would regulate entry of people in the area based on our existing laws and ordinances,” he said.

Assorted plastic waste recovered at the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed during a clean-up on Friday, 13 August 2021. Photo courtesy of IDIS

In a statement, IDIS expressed alarm over the increasing amount of plastic waste collected, mostly made from materials that would survive hundreds of years in the environment.

“The amount of waste collected is way higher than the previously conducted river clean-up last month… The facemask count was only 21. Today, it surged to 80 pieces. These types of wastes have a significant impact on the environment and the communities nearby,” IDIS said.

The pollution of the watershed needs urgent solutions, it added.

The group urged consumers to be responsible and accountable in the preservation of the natural resources. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)