Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez has warned local government units (LGUs) against the continued use of open dumps, saying non-compliance with Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 will be met with a corresponding administrative case.
“It is high time that local government officials should be made accountable, especially now that we are anticipating La Niña that would be bringing in excessive rainwater and could put a lot of low-lying areas under water for days,” Lopez said on Monday.
Lopez issued the statement in light of President Rodrigo Duterte ordering government agencies to go after local government executives who are remiss in their duties to address garbage problems in their respective localities.
Duterte earlier expressed dismay over the inability of mayors and governors to manage garbage in their areas, as he vowed to create a special body that will look into the intelligence and discretionary funds of local officials.
The President pointed out that governors and mayors could effectively manage their garbage well using their respective intelligence and discretionary funds.
Lopez, meanwhile, said she would look into the matter, adding that those who fail to comply with the 16-year-old solid waste management law can be charged administratively before the Office of the Ombudsman.
“I understand that cases have been filed against 50 LGUs with the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman. If there’s a need to add more, we will do so in order not to cause more suffering to our people due to dirty environment,” she added.
The solid-waste law provides the legal framework for the country’s systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that ensures protection of public health and the environment.
It seeks the creation of mechanisms and incentives to pursue an effective solid waste management at the local government level.
The law also calls for mandatory segregation of solid wastes and establishment of LGU materials recovery facility; and prohibits use of open dumps, littering in public places, open burning of solid waste and squatting in open dumps and landfills, among others.
While a number of LGUs have already banned the use of plastics in their respective areas, Lopez said there is a need to follow up on implementation of the ban to get results.
“It is not enough that you have issued the ban, we should make sure that the ban is implemented to the letter in order to get the results that we have envisioned,” she pointed out.
The Environment chief underscored the need to raise public awareness of RA 9003 and the ordinances related to garbage, saying “it is only when you get people to act on a community problem that we will be able to address this national concern with success.”