The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued a final warning against the municipal government of Malay in Aklan for its failure to address the worsening garbage problem in Boracay Island.
This, as DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said he hopes Malay Mayor Ciceron Cawaling will address the worsening garbage situation on the island which is becoming a major public health and environmental concern in one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
“If not addressed, the local government of Malay, particularly Mayor Cawaling, may face charges for violation of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,” Cimatu said.
RA 9003 specifically mandates all, especially the local government units to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that would ensure the protection of public health and environment.
In the case of Boracay, Cimatu said proper operation of the MRF (materials recovery facility) is necessary to manage the huge volume of waste generated from its tourism industry.
“Garbage remains a major challenge to this island resort and the challenge becomes more daunting with the increasing number of tourists coming,” he said.
The agency recently received a copy of an undertaking dated June 24 and signed by Cawaling that pledged to haul the garbage dumped at MRF located in Barangay Manoc-Manoc by July 17.
Cawaling’s commitment came after Cimatu visited the island on June 22 and warned the local official of legal action should he fail to come up with a solution to the garbage problem.
In his commitment letter, Cawaling vowed to “haul and clear” the stockpile of wastes “within 23 days starting from 24 June 2017.”
Cawaling said the trash will be transported by barge to a sanitary landfill in mainland Malay. He also promised to submit to the DENR a progress report indicating the amount of solid waste cleared from the area.
Among those affected by the garbage problem are teachers and students of the nearby Manoc-Manoc Elementary School who have complained of the foul odor emitting from the MRF which became unbearable that even caused frequent class disruptions.
The findings of an investigating team headed by Environmental Management Bureau Region 6 Director Ariela Gloria, showed the MRF “has become an open dump in violation of RA 9003.”
The wastes found in the facility are “no longer residual, but mixed waste,” meaning, waste segregation has not been properly observed or implemented.
Meanwhile, 350 local government units (LGUs), including Bacolod City, also face charges for continuing to operate open dump, according to Noel Felongco, DENR undersecretary for solid waste management.
Felongco was a guest speaker during the 1st Negros Island Region Solid Waste Management Summit in Bacolod City on Thursday said charges are being readied for the first batch of 50 LGUs.
He called on local government units to also strictly implement laws and ordinances related to the environment, citing the need to enforce the anti-littering law by teaching people discipline.
“We all have to work together to protect the environment. We need to practice recycling and re-use, in order to reduce waste,” he said.
He also urged village officials to teach waste segregation at source so that biodegradable waste from food can be converted into organic fertilizer or as energy sources.
Waste that can be recycled should also be separated so that only a much smaller amount of residual garbage will be dumped on sanitary landfills, Felongco said.
Of the waste generated nationwide, 52 percent is biodegradable that if converted to organic fertilizer or energy, the same percentage of the garbage problem is solved, he pointed out.
“Recyclables are about 25 percent of the country’s waste, while residuals like plastics can be used to make bags or mixed with construction materials for pavements,” Felongco said.
with EUGENE ADIONG