A WASTE and pollution watch group has urged those who are filing their Certificates of Candidacy and aspiring to become barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or Youth Council) leaders to take up the cudgels to care for the environment.
Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition, over the weekend said the country needs grassroots leaders who will inspire and guide communities to the cause of environmental conservation and protection and make sure that villages are cared for.
“Barangay and SK leaders are front liners of public service and have a huge responsibility in making our neighborhoods clean, healthy and safe for everyone, especially for children who are most vulnerable to harm and illness,” Alejandre added.
He said the villages need public servants who will help in enforcement by local government units (LGUs) of environmental laws and regulations that seek to protect air, water, soil and the people against damaging and polluting activities.
He cited Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (ESWMA), which calls for waste prevention, volume reduction, segregation at source, recycling and composting.
“This [implementation of RA 9003]can be done through the adoption of best environmental practices in ecological solid waste management, excluding incineration,” Alejandre said.
Also citing the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP), he noted that the LGUs’ compliance with the ESWMA has been low and majority of local areas are still unserved by solid waste management (SWM) facilities or materials recovery facilities (MRFs).
Based on the PDP, Alejandre said, only 31.28 percent of villages are covered by SWM facilities and 30.92 percent by MRFs, which are below the 2016 targets of 67.39 percent and 77.10 percent, respectively.
He added that RA 9003 requires the establishment of MRFs or ecology centers in every barangay or cluster of villages “to receive, sort, process and store compostable and recyclable materials efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner.”
“These MRFs have the potential to boost community-driven ecological waste management that will reduce hauling costs, conserve resources, prevent spillage of plastics to water bodies and foster environmental values among the people,” Alejandre said.
“We hope that those running for the barangay and SK polls come May 14 do recognize the importance of enforcing RA 9003 in their localities and their role to get the law implemented,” he added.
The EcoWaste Coalition expressed hope that contenders will address garbage and other pressing environmental concerns in their electoral platforms, and that voters will support pro-Mother Earth candidates on Election Day.
On Friday, it launched its campaign for waste-free barangay and SK elections outside the Commission on Elections headquarters and in the presence of Commissioner Luie Tito Guia.
“We are urging candidates to campaign in a manner that will not misuse resources, dirty the surroundings and cause damage to community health and the environment,” the group said.