Davao City waiting for word on WTE Japanese grant

THE Davao City Government is now waiting for invitations from national agencies to determine how to proceed with the P2.5-billion grant from Japan for the proposed waste-to-energy project in Davao City, an official said.

"Moving forward, we will be waiting for the appropriate invitations from the national agencies, particularly from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Finance, on how to proceed with utilizing the grant given to the country and to the city," Davao City Assistant Administrator Tristan Dwight Domingo told SunStar in an interview Monday, April 2.

The grant for the WTE was finalized during the signing of the Exchange of Notes last March 20 between Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City.

According to the Japanese Embassy, "Japan's grant will be used to construct and manage waste-to-energy facilities to significantly reduce solid wastes and convert it into usable energy." It said the project is "expected to serve as an innovative example of sustainable waste management to other cities in the Philippines"

This grant, however, faced oppositions from the national and local environmentalists groups, saying the project is not a way to solve the city's garbage problem.

"Incinerating discards will rather result in a more environmental, health and socio-economic problems for the city government and our people. WTE incineration is not the solution," Executive Director of Interface Development Interventions Chinkee Pelino-Golle said.

To this, Domingo said they have partnered with environmentalists even when the project was introduced to them in Kitakyushu Japan. He said the delegates from IDIS went with the local city executives to Japan when the project was introduced.

"They made very insightful comments regarding the WTE technology. We would like to encourage them to work with us to ensure that the implementation of the WTE project here in the city will be within the bounds of the law. We are mindful of their comments, and ever since they are strong partners in giving us constructive feedback," he said.

Domingo said he is hopeful that the environmentalists can see the logic of why such project will be undertaken within the city.

He also clarified that waste segregation scheme will still be actively pushed alongside the WTE as a solution to the increasing garbage of the city.

He also said the city is making efforts to implement waste segregation scheme, the collection of garbage, and landfill maintenance.

"We will still continue to collect those things but it is high time for us now to explore the options including the waste to energy like the other countries, which have facilities like this to help them, I understand that most of the environmentalists are proponents of zero waste," Domingo said.

He said they are asking the environmentalists to have an open mind for the project.

"We are balancing the urgency of the situation of our landfill and the amount of garbage that we are actually dealing with, and also the level of cooperation of the citizens," Domingo added.

He said once the WTE facility will be built, they will continue to conduct information campaign on waste segregation because the facility will not burn everything, stating the segregation is still a vital component in running the WTE project.

Domingo said Japanese experts mentioned that almost 1,000 WTE facilities, big or small, are built in Japan, adding that this kind of machines also exists in other countries aside from Japan.

"I hope that despite our differences in opinion, they will still work with us in trying to ensure the safety of the public in terms of the health, the facility and in various interventions that should be done to encourage public to properly dispose their waste," he said.
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