Bontoc, Mountain Province – The doubled efforts and initiatives of Bontoc on finding solutions to the garbage problem came into fruition with the approval of its 10-Year Solid Waste Management (SWM) Plan for the year 2019, until 2029.
The 10-Year SWM Plan of Bontoc does not only cover the four central barangays but even in the outskirt barangays of the municipality.
On December 3, 2020, Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey led the team in the final deliberation of the 10-year SWM Plan to the members of the NSWMC-ExeCom.
With Mayor Odsey are Sangguniang Bayan member Alsannyster Patingan, Environmental Management Specialist Roger Agcapen from the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, and a representative from the Provincial Environmental Management Unit.
The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) in its Resolution No.1030-A, Series of 2020 dated December 9, 2020, approved the 10-Year SWM Plan of Bontoc, Mountain Province covering the year 2019 until 2029. The Bontoc Local Government Unit (LGU) received a copy of the NSWMC resolution on May 18, 2021.
Mayor Odsey shared the struggle of Bontoc in finding a solution to the garbage problem. He recalled how the filing of the Writ of Kalikasan against Bontoc in August 2012 for its open dumping of waste along the Chico River in Sitio Matoytoy-ok, Barangay Caluttit has challenged Bontoc and how the Court of Appeals ordered the closure and rehabilitation of the dumpsite. Mayor Odsey, together with the members of the Sangguniang Bayan, had just started their term that year. They barely had two months to plan, prepare and rehabilitate the dumpsite and find means of waste disposal.
The filing of a case against Bontoc and the closure of the town’s dumpsite challenged the municipal government to come up with plans and programs to address the garbage problem and solid waste management. The 10-Year SWM Plan will not only cater to the central barangays comprising Poblacion, Bontoc Ili, Caluttit, and Samoki; but to Riverside cluster (Barangays Bayyo, Talubin, Bontoc and Tocucan), ALBAGO consisting Alab Oriente , Alab Proper, Balili and Gononogon, and Upland cluster (Barangays Guina-ang, Mainit, Dalican, and Maligcong).
To minimize the generation of residual waste, the Sangguniang Bayan passed Municipal Ordinance No. 212, s. 2013 in December prohibiting the use of plastic bags for dry goods, regulating its utilization on wet goods, and prohibiting the use of Styrofoam.
The municipal government took the lead to firmly implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management System such as segregation at source, segregated collection, the establishment of Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), and other recycling and composting methods.
With the support of the community, the municipal government instituted programs towards the goals of closing the decades-old dumpsite and instilling a new sustainable paradigm on solid waste management. These include Oplan Pera Sa Basura Program; formation of the Bontoc Green Police; establishment of Eco-parks; Senior Citizens Eco-brick and Eco-brick Making Project; No Plastic No Styrofoam Policy and Development of Residual Waste Processing Facility.
To heighten the awareness and participation of the public on proper waste management, the municipal government launched the “Oplan Pera sa Basura” tapping all schools in the municipality to participate. This project involved students and the faculty to collect recyclable materials such as empty plastic bottles, cans, papers, and bottles that are not being bought by the junk shops. To ensure the sustainability of the project, the municipal government has partnered with four recognized junk shop owners in the locality to collect and buy all the recyclable waste and non-saleable materials. The non-saleable materials such as broken bottles, glass, and ceramics shall be given to the municipal government for processing and recycling.
Odsey added that even with the meager and limited budget and resources of municipal government, it strived and worked out for the procurement and development of a Solid Waste Management (SWM) facility at Am-ancho, Bontoc Ili. It is also where the Temporary Residual Containment Area (TRCA), composting area, and bottle/plastic shredding areas are located.
The Senior Citizens of Bontoc came –up with a Sustainable Livelihood Project in 2015 from the P1 million budget provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as start-up capital. Through the processing facility of the Bontoc –LGU, plastic and cellophanes are shredded while bottles are crushed and are turned over to the senior citizen to be made into construction materials such as eco-brick and hollow-blocks. In 2016, the hollow-blocks made out of the project were sold at a cheaper price to the beneficiaries of the core shelter project of the DSWD in Barangay Can-eo, Bontoc. Also, eco-bricks, hollow-blocks, and glass bricks derived from the project of the senior citizens were used in the construction of the new municipal building and its façade. These initiatives of the municipal government in partnership with the senior citizens earned them the DSWD National Awards covering Best Regional Partner, People’s Choice Award, Most Environmental-friendly Project, and Best Livelihood for Special Projects.
Another waste reduction measure adopted by the municipality is bottle brick making which was participated in by schools, non-government organizations (NGOs), and the residents. The bottle bricks were being used in the construction, beautification, and landscaping of parks and other facilities.
Environmental Management Specialist Roger F. Agcapen of the Bontoc –LGU shared that the municipal government has been doubling its effort in the campaign and implementation of proper waste disposal. Agcapen mentioned that while the 10- Year SWM Plan of Bontoc was submitted for approval by the NSWMC, Bontoc has been practicing what was incorporated in the plan. Prior to the closure of the dumpsite in 2012, the municipality has been practicing segregation at the source. This was intensified when the municipal government in partnership with the Green Police and in coordination with the respective barangay officials started to inform the public how to segregate their garbage. The Green Police who are volunteers from the four central barangays, wake up early in the morning and proceed to the waste collection area of their respective barangays and at the town market to make sure bags of garbage brought there by the residents are properly segregated. Thankful of their great contributions, the municipal government gave P1, 200.00 monthly honorarium to each Green Police. As of this writing, there are 61 Green Police provided with honorarium by the Bontoc LGU.
He added that in partnership with other stakeholders, the municipal government continuously implements the “No Segregation, No Collection”, and encouraged the public to compost biodegradables at home and practice the Re-use, Reduce and Recycle (3Rs).
Odsey in an interview solicited the usual support and compliance of the community in the implementation of the SWM Plan emphasizing that this is for the good of the constituents and the municipality.
He said that practicing segregation of biodegradable, special, recyclable, and residual wastes in the household, office, school, and establishment; and complying with no to plastic bags, cellophane, and styrofoam policy may be small and simple gestures, but contribute much in solving the problem of garbage disposal in the locality.
By Alpine L. Killa, Bontoc