SENATOR Loren Legarda on Tuesday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to make Boracay Island in Aklan province a model for ecological solid waste management (ESWM) and renewed her call for stronger implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9003.
Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, made the statement during the hearing for the proposed 2018 budget of the DENR after confirming with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) that 12 commercial establishments in Boracay Island illegally used the storm drain canals to discharge wastewater.
The senator urged the DENR to exercise utmost vigilance especially in monitoring compliance to or violation of environmental laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003) and the Clean Water Act (RA 9275), even as the EMB has already plugged the pipes from the establishments leading to the storm drain canals and has issued notices of violation.
"Let us make Boracay a model green island that exercises the elements of a blue economy, respecting and protecting the water around it. Let us do the same in Puerto Galera, Pasig River, Laguna de Bay, Manila Bay, and in other areas that are tourist havens and heavily populated," said Legarda.
She also renewed her call to ensure full compliance to RA 9003 by all local government units (LGUs) including all barangays in the country.
According to the DENR, there are still 420 LGUs with open dumpsites, which are prohibited under the ESWM Law.
"I urge the DENR to strengthen implementation of the ESWM Law and ensure that all barangays in the country are compliant. I know it is a herculean task, but if one barangay can do it, there is no reason for the 42,000 other barangays not to do it," said Legarda.
The senator cited several barangays and LGUs that have been successful in implementing the law, such as, Barangay Potrero in Malabon; Barangay Neogan in Tagaytay; Barangay Sicat in Alfonso, Cavite; Las Piñas City; Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City; Barangay Fort in Taguig City; and San Fernando City in Pampanga.
Legarda also cited a report from the Commission on Audit (COA) that the Makati City government saved P108.72 million in its 2016 environment/sanitary services expenses, or 24.35 percent lower than its 2015 expenses for the same category, due to intensive pro-environment programs, particularly the enforcement of the ESWM Law.
Moreover, Legarda said that the DENR, particularly the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), should spend its budget for the implementation of ESWM Law worth P500 million in 2016 and P800 million in 2017, which will both expire by the end of the year. The budget can be used for capacity building programs and for the purchase of composters and shredders.
"We need to speed up the procurement process and the implementation of budget allocations in accordance with our laws. But I would also like to stress that, with or without the machines, all LGUs should be able to implement the law. The materials recovery facility (MRF) in communities need not be expensive. These should be made only from recycled and indigenous materials," she explained.
"I do not have machines but I practice waste segregation in my office and in my home, and I do my own compost from food waste. I want to prove to people that even if they are not granted a machine, they can implement the law and live in a clean and healthy environment if every household is involved," said Legarda. (SunStar Philippines)