By Roi Lomotan
If solid waste is managed correctly, only five percent of these will go to final disposal facilities.
Engr. Marco Andrew Silveron of the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO II) here cited this in a briefing with members of the Association of Negros Oriental Public Information Officers (ANOPIO) recently.
The DENR officer was there to promote the department’s zero waste advocacy and also tackle the role of Local Government Units (LGUs) in raising awareness about this endeavor to their constituents.
Silveron said the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act emphasizes waste segregation and volume reduction at the source noting that it should begin at the household level.
He added the law calls for efficient garbage collection, waste diversion, and waste disposal systems and these responsibilities fall on the LGUs including the barangays.
“According to Republic Act 9003, mao ni ang mandate sa barangay level. Pinakadako gyud ang role ng barangay sa management of solid waste kay dinhi man magsugod sa ilaha ang pag-segregate, collection, and diversion. Ang sa city (or municipality) only ang disposal (The barangay has the most important role in management of solid waste because segregation, collection, and diversion of wastes should start here. The city or municipal government’s role is to dispose the waste. This is the mandate to the barangay as per R.A. 9003. ),” Silveron noted.
“Mao na ang barangay gyud, magsige mi ug enforce ug implement their ordinances, their policies kay sila man naa gyud power. Dagko man gyud power ang barangay compared to mayor. Ang barangay mismo silay naa authority, naa’y direct contact sa ilang area of jurisdiction, sa mga household so kinahanglan ma-implement nila (We really push the barangays to implement their ordinances or their policies because they have more power compared to the mayor. The barangays have direct contact with their households or area of jurisdiction. They really have to implement it),” he added.
R.A. 9003 also mandates barangays to establish and operate Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) for the efficient solid waste management systems.
MRFs are used for the final sorting, segregation of wastes, composting, recycling, and transferring of resulting residual wastes to a long-term storage or disposal facility.
However, Silveron said the reality is that only 10 percent of the barangays in Negros Oriental have functional MRFs.
In Dumaguete City, only five barangays have functioning MRFs and while there are barangays in Negros Oriental that have MRFs, some of them are used as temporary pig pens or for other purposes.
Silveron said notices were sent to barangays that are not compliant with the proper use of MRFs and they are following the due process in addressing this concern.
Meanwhile, the law states that “local government officials and officials of government agencies concerned who fail to comply with and enforce rules and regulations promulgated relative to this Act shall be charged administratively in accordance with R.A. 7160 and other existing laws, rules and regulations.”
With this, Silveron reiterated the importance of complying with the law.
He said R.A. 9003 has been enacted for 17 years and yet only 30 percent of the law has been enforced over the years.
He also warned that if improper waste management practices would still continue, it would lead to various negative effects such as contamination of water, air pollution, flooding, and sickness to humans.
As per the 2010 data of the DENR-Environment Management Bureau, the number of per capita waste generation in the Philippines is pegged at 0.40 kg per capita per day.
“I think 137,000 na daw ang (population) sa Dumaguete City. Imagine pila na ang volume of waste. Mao nang potential generation of waste sa Dumaguete alone (I think the population in Dumaguete City is now at 137,000. Imagine how much volume of waste generated in Dumaguete City alone),” Silveron told ANOPIO members.