BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan urged the environment department to take the lead in the identify suitable lands in the different parts of the country which could be utilized by concerned local governments for the establishment of their permanent solid waste disposal facilities in compliance to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Domogan, who graced the 3rd Cordillera Environment Summit organized by the Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) headed by regional director Reynaldo S. Digamo, claimed that one of the major problems being encountered by local governments in finding permanent solutions to their garbage disposal woes is the absence of available lands for such purpose.
He argued that since the agency is in possession of the maps that contain the identify the classification of lands around the country, it should be incumbent upon the responsible officials to already segregate the suitable areas for solid waste projects in favor of the government and not to allow their conversion into alienable and disposable lands which are eventually awarded to private individuals and institutions to the prejudice of the welfare of the general public.
“We call on the environment department not to allow the conversion of suitable areas for solid waste projects to alienable and disposable lands so that it will no longer be difficult for local governments to locate the permanent site for the establishment of their solid waste disposal facilities to address the garbage problem in their areas of jurisdiction,” Domogan stressed.
In the case of the city, he asserted local officials worked double time to locate a suitable area within its 57.4-square kilometer jurisdiction and it was only the 139hectare city-owned property in Sto. Tomas School Area that was pinpointed to be suitable for the project.
However, the local government needs around P210 million to complete the road network leading to the 50-hectare portion of the property that was initially segregated for solid waste disposal concerns which local officials described to be expensive thereby stalling the realization of the project.
Domogan disclosed the local government tried its luck to locate a potential site in Sablan, Benguet but the area in the place did not pass the standards of the Nati9onal Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC, thus, local officials went to Burgos, La Union to look into the viability of the 25-hectare property of former La Union Rep. Jose Aspiras for the project but it was met by initial opposition from officials and residents.
The city was able to find another area in Rosario, La Union that had an area of 20 hectares but there was a provincial ordinance that was enacted that prohibited local governments outside the province from dumping their garbage in the province’s jurisdiction.
Domogan pointed out the only remaining option for the local government is to pursue the expansion of its deed of usufruct with the Benguet Corporation (BC) so that the identified 5.11 hectares within its Antamok open pit site that was identified to be suitable for a solid waste facility will be used for the put up of the city’s proposed integrated solid waste disposal project that will be its permanent solution to its garbage disposal problem leading to the initial stoppage of the hauling of its residual waste outside the city which was described to be too expensive.
By Dexter A. See