February 17, 2012
PIMENTEL SEEKS REVIEW OF SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT LAW
To ease numerous environmental concerns that add up to various social problems affecting local government units (LGUs), Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has filed Senate Resolution 702 that will direct the Senate committees on health and demography, local government and other appropriate committees to conduct an inquiry on the condition of all dumpsites in the country.
The resolution is meant to determine and recommend appropriate action that would effectively facilitate the full implementation of the 2003 Solid Waste Management Act in the wake of reports that more than 1,000 LGUs operating open and controlled dumpsites nationwide have been tagged for various environmental offenses and violations.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA), meanwhile, has projected a wet season for 2012 due to the La Niña phenomenon, warning of more rains up to August this year that would directly impact on the condition of the dumpsites.
"We want to find out how far and how deep has the implementation of the Solid Waste Management law gone in the light of several aggravating environmental situations that have happened around the country," said Pimentel adding that local autonomy cannot be made effective if the LGUs cannot even handle their own environmental issues in their level.
Pimentel said that there is an urgent need for the systematic rehabilitation of the decommissioned dumpsites "to reduce the continuing biological, chemical and physical threats" similar if not worse than various incidents in the past which also resulted in the death of several persons and destruction of millions worth of properties.
Created by Republic Act No. 9003 was the Solid Waste Management Commission whose principal responsibility is to be the coordinating body for the implementation of the provisions of the statute.
The SWMC is specifically tasked to fund and study standards, criteria and guidelines for the promulgation and implementation of an integrated national solid waste management program.
"The tasks of SWMC are clearly defined: approve, review and monitor local waste management plans and coordinate the operation of local waste management boards in provincial, city and municipal levels," Pimentel said.
The inquiry will determine, to an extent, how LGUs can be provided the operational leeway to contribute their individual and collective shares in environmental protection through proper solid waste management practices.
Pimentel, who is advocating for an increase in the IRA shares of LGUs to facilitate the devolution of local and fiscal autonomy, said since the enactment of the Solid Waste Management Act in 2003 only a handful of LGUs have succeeded in fully complying with the provisions of the law.
The Mindanao solon said the framework, criteria and guidelines for siting, design, operation and maintenance of solid waste management facilities may have to be reviewed to determine the individual capability of the LGUs in complying with the law.
"I believe that a review is necessary as this will give us a bird's eye view of the current situation and offer long-term solutions to the worsening environmental problems, not to mention the catastrophes brought about by our inability to prepare adequately against weather disturbances," said Pimentel.
In the proposed resolution, Pimentel cited the sorry incident in Baguio City in August 2011 where heavy rains brought about by typhoon Mina caused the mound of garbage at the Irisan dumpsite to loosen and destroy a retaining defensive wall.
The ensuing avalanche of trash killed three people, destroyed three homes and damaged many others.
Pimentel also believes that efficient solid waste management is a major key in preventing killer flash floods as well as deterring the spread of communicable diseases that usually arise after a destructive typhoon.
He noted that seven years after its enactment, the law has not been fully complied with, not because the LGUs did not want to but it is due more to the law's stringent standards and requirements and inadequate funding support.
Pimentel added that his advocacy to increase the IRA shares of the LGUs will render more efficient the performance of local officials in the delivery of social services, including but not limited to the compliance with the Solid Waste Management law.
"I believe that these twin objectives go hand in hand in our desire to make the LGUs as self-reliant as possible. That is why I am calling for an inquiry on this matter to evaluate the implementation of the RA 9003, the Solid Waste Management Act," he concluded.
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