Murcia is first town with sanitary landfill

Murcia Mayor Gerry Rojas and Penro OIC Engr. Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya cut the ribbon during the recent blessing and inauguration of the town’s sanitary landfill at Brgy. Cansilayan.
Murcia Mayor Gerry Rojas and Penro OIC Engr. Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya cut the ribbon during the recent blessing and inauguration of the town’s sanitary landfill at Brgy. Cansilayan.

“Murcia is the first town in Negros Occidental to have a sanitary landfill. Out of the 19 towns and 13 cities in the province, we are only the 12th local government unit (LGU) to have this facility; the other 11 LGUs with sanitary landfills are all cities,” said Murcia Mayor Gerry Rojas during the recent blessing and inauguration of the town’s sanitary landfill at Brgy. Cansilayan. 

Joining the mayor, Sangguniang Bayan members and other Murcia officials in celebrating this milestone were Third District Provincial Board Member Manman Ko, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office Officer-in-Charge Engr. Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya, Department of Enviroment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Provincial Environment Management Unit Head Jumar Tabita and Provincial Environment Management Office Head Atty. Julie Ann Bedrio. 

Also gracing the occasion were Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) VI Assistant Regional Director Maria Calpiza J. Sardua and other key DILG provincial officers who attended earlier that day the blessing and inauguration of another big ticket infrastructure project, a two-lane bridge which replaced the small often-flooded overflow bridge which serves as the major artery among Brgy. Sta. Rosa, Brgy. Amayco and Brgy. Canlandog in Murcia. 

Mayor Rojas narrated that, since he started serving as a public servant in Murcia 18 years ago, the town has been using the open pit dumpsite at Brgy. Iglau-an. The Solid Waste Management Act, or RA 9003 passed in 2000, prohibited open dumpsites and mandated all LGUs to construct sanitary landfills. In compliance with RA 9003, Murcia constructed a sanitary landfill financed by local funds without availing of any loan, he pointed out. 

“RA 9003 also mandates waste segregation. The implementation of any new policy is hard, but we need to do it for the benefit of future generations of Murciahanons. Barangay officials, in coordination with our Solid Waste Management Focal Person, Gracelyn Palermo- Jamero, should lead by example and spearhead the drive in educating and convincing our constituents to practice waste segregation,” he stressed. 

If properly managed, it will take up to 50 years to fill all the four cells of this landfill, based on a study conducted by the local environment board. The first open cell is more than half a hectare wide and about 10 meters deep. Without proper waste segregation, this cell can be filled in just two years. The mayor underscored the importance of proper waste segregation, so that only residual wastes will be dumped in the landfill.

“It is no joke to build a sanitary landfill, considering that it costs around PhP30 million. We thank Gov. Bong Lacson for giving us PhP10 million to help in the construction. We programmed our funds to finance the balance, and we finished the construction in 2 ½ years. We will still construct fencing around this entire 5.5 hectare area, which also hosts an eco-park and the town’s new, much-wider motorpool,” Mayor Rojas added. 

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) Officer-in-charge Engr. Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya lauded Murcia officials for this extraordinary achievement. 

“Congratulations, Mayor Gerry Rojas and all Murcia officials, for being the first town in Negros Occidental to construct a sanitary landfill and, equally remarkable, for funding the construction of such facility with local funds!” said Engr. Gerangaya. He disclosed that, after the enactment of RA 9003, the DENR personnel conducted information campaign in schools, offices and all other venues to explain the importance of the Solid Waste Management Act.

The law mandates that all LGUs should have sanitary landfills within five years from the passage of RA 9003, but no LGU in the province has complied within the given time. 

Considering that a sanitary landfill is a huge investment, only a few LGUs could afford its construction and only a few LGUs prioritized this project, according to Gerangaya. 

“After 24 years from the passage of RA 9003, Murcia is only the 12 th LGU in Negros Occidental to establish a sanitary landfill. We are fortunate here in Murcia that Mayor Gerry Rojas prioritized this project and allocated funds for its construction,” the DENR official emphasized. 

He added that Murcia has already opened one of the four cells of this facility, but if not properly managed, this cell can be filled in a couple of months. The preparation of one cell is very costly, particularly the thick lining at the bottom to ensure that liquid or gaseous emissions from the waste will not seep into and contaminate the waterways below the dumpsite, he explained. 

“Bago River, the biggest river system in Negros Occidental, passes thru Murcia. We do not want and we cannot afford that the largest water source in Northern and Central Negros will become contaminated due to irresponsible waste disposal,” Gerangaya said. 

“We are happy that Murcia complied with all the exact specifications in the construction of a sanitary landfill. We should ensure that this landfill can serve us for a long time. We should practice proper waste segregation at the household level, so that only residual waste will be dumped into the landfill and it will take a long time to fill this opened cell,” Gerangaya emphasized.

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