CRIMINAL and administrative charges are being prepared against more than 50 officials from different local government units (LGUs) in the country for failure to implement the 13-year old Republic Act 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act of 2001, Senator Loren Legarda said on Sunday.
The charges this month will constitute the first batch, with more cases set to be filed in the coming weeks against local officials who have failed to comply with RA9003, she said.
“The Ombudsman was in my office, together with some NGOs (non-governmental organizations, to discuss the strict implementation of environmental laws, including RA9003. More than 50 local government officials were included in the list of those who will be charged,” Legarda said, referring to a meeting she had with the Ombudsman before Congress took a Christmas season recess last month.
The senator did not disclose the names of the local officials who were included in the first batch, except to say that were mostly mayors, vice mayors and councilors.
Section 50 of RA9003 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 (Local Government Code of 1991) and other existing laws, rules and regulations.”
The country marks January as “Zero Waste Month,” according to Presidential Proclamation No. 760.
Legarda said Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera is in charge of monitoring the LGUs’ compliance with the ESWM, particularly on mandatory segregation of wastes, materials recovery facilities, no segregation/no collection rule, closure and rehabilitation of open/controlled disposal facility, use of sanitary landfill or alternative technology and submission of 10-year solid waste management plan.
The monitoring of the LGU compliance started in 2013, or more than 12 years since RA9003 was enacted.
Based on the 2012 statistics from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) only 414 of the 1,610 LGUs nationwide have complied with the national plan. This translates to only 25.7 percent compliance rate.
In Metro Manila, only nine of the 17 cities and municipality have submitted a Solid Waste Management Plan.
Under RA9003, passed in 2001, the establishment of open dumps for solid wastes is prohibited and requires all operators to convert such dumpsites into controlled disposal facilities.
The conversion process is in preparation for the total closure of the controlled dumps supposedly by the year 2006 as stated in R.A. 9003 and will only allow sanitary landfill facility.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also bans the use of incinerators in garbage treatment in accordance with Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act.
Legarda, at the same time, dismissed concerns that the filing of charges against local officials might be construed as “politically-motivated,” explaining that the cases are a result of years of evaluation.
“There are communications informing them (local officials) of their violations and we have proof enough as basis,” she added.