ITOGON, Benguet – The municipal council passed Resolution No. 59, series of 2017 manifesting and expressing the sentiments of the local legislative body on the Benguet Corporation’s plan to convert and develop its Antamok properties into an engineered sanitary landfill.
The council stated the multipartite agreement entered into between Benguet Corporation, Itogon municipal government, Baguio City government and Goldrich natural Exploration and Development is allegedly bereft of beneficial features in favour of the municipal government, stating that for decades, the stand of the local government is to adopt a waste management facility that is not harmful to the environment and to its constituents.
It added that the element of prior consultation, project presentation and project acceptability should be required amidst the 12-month period for the developer to conduct due diligence for the landfill project.
The local legislative body claimed the payment of tipping fee to Goldrich by the municipality in the disposal of its solid waste puts the local government in a great disadvantage considering that under one of the clauses of the agreement, the solid waste management needs of the locality, including those of the local government units in the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) area are to be addressed by the Antamok project which is within the territorial jurisdiction of the town and that the local government should be the one to collect the tipping fee and not any other entity.
However, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan allayed the fears raised by the Itogon municipal council, citing that the put up of the engineered sanitary landfill with waste-to-energy component has not yet been proven to be feasible in the said area, thus, it is improper for the council to put the cart before the horse.’
He added the earlier agreement signed among the concerned parties is to allow the initial evaluation and assessment of the 60hectare property if it will pass the stringent standards pursuant to environmental laws and regulations and that there is no specific project to talk about because there is not clearance yet from concerned government agencies if the area passes the standards.
According to him, the benefits being raised by the Itogon council that should accrue to the local government will be contained in a future detailed agreement that will be signed among the involved parties upon consultation with the local legislative bodies and the communities to be affected.
He claimed the issues being raised against the Antamok landfill project could be considered as premature at this time because the viability of the project will still be subject to the required feasibility study and its results will determine whether or not the put up of the landfill and the waste-to-energy component will still be viable prior to the conduct of the mandatory consultations with all the affected sectors of the locality.
Benguet Corporation pans to use the conversion of its former open pit site to a sanitary landfill with a waste-to-energy component as its final mine rehabilitation plan for the said area.