BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) announced there is no official order from higher authorities to close Baguio City purposely to undergo rehabilitation like what happened to Boracay island over the past six months, saying that the regional offices of the environment department and its attached bureaus never got hold of directives on the matter.
EMB-CAR regional director Reynaldo S. Digamo said his office had been receiving numerous inquiries on the reported closure of Baguio City for rehabilitation but he already informed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in one of their previous gatherings outside Metro Manila that the DENR regional office and its attached bureaus in the regional level can manage the situation in the city.
He also narrated that when Secretary Cimatu was asked lately regarding the pronouncement on the closure of Baguio City by no less than one of his undersecretaries, the Secretary was allegedly caught by surprise and inquired on where the closure order came from.
“We believe the reported closure of Baguio City was a product of the attention it got in the social media even if the same were false information circulated by supposedly social media savvy individuals which slightly affected the city’s image in the national and international scenes,” Digamo stressed.
The EMB-CAR official explained that on the rehabilitation part, the primary concern of the environment is water and air quality and solid waste management which are actually being effectively and efficiently addressed by the local government in terms of the implementation of various programs and projects geared towards environmental preservation and protection, specifically the enhanced Balili River coalition known as the Salaknib ti Waig, the strict enforcement of the local clean air ordinance which prohibits smoke-belching motor vehicles as well as the roadside inspection, testing and monitoring to ascertain the emissions of vehicles while traversing along roads, among others.
According to him, based on the year-to-year monitoring of the city’s air quality over the past several years, there has been a significant improvement on the quality of air even in the central business area that previously recorded unhealthy air quality primarily because of the existing interventions by the concerned government agencies and the local government in consonance to existing environmental laws, rules and regulations.
Aside from rehabilitating its overloaded old sewerage treatment plant (STP), Digamo took note of the plan of the local government to increase its capacity over a 5-year period with the installation of sufficient units of dewatering equipment around the existing STP, the programmed put up of a STP in the city’s abattoir and public market area, the planned put up of a STP at Lower Rock Quarry and the enhanced joint campaign to rid the river systems of the existence of piggeries and sewerage connections of individual households and businesses.
In terms of solid waste disposal, he claimed the local government established a modern waste transfer station for the hauling of its residual waste outside the city while looking for a permanent site for its integrated solid waste disposal facility that will involve state-of-the-art waste disposal technologies.
By Dexter A. See