Residents of Barangay Felisa, Bacolod City, strongly expressed their opposition to the proposal of Pollution Abatement Systems Specialists Inc. to construct a health care waste and septage treatment facility in the barangay during a public hearing Saturday.
The project being proposed by the Cebu-based company to be constructed on a 1-hectare property of the Felisa Agricultural Corporation owned by the Sayson family in Purok Paho, Brgy. Felisa will cost between P15 to P20 million.
PASSI president Julito Pugoy said the facility can properly collect and dispose health care wastes from hospitals in Bacolod and Negros Occidental.
They hope to give people of Felisa a better option, he said. Since the city has no health care waste and septage treatment facility, the current practice is that medical wastes directly untreated go to the dumpsite. So, the community is subject to unnecessary health risk, Pugoy said.
However, about 350 residents who attended the public hearing, said they believe that the project may affect the health of about 5,000 residents of Felisa, including those living in Barangay Handumanan and other neighboring areas approximately 100 meters away from the supposed site of the facility.
The Felisa residents also claimed that their barangay is always being chosen as a dumping site of wastes, citing the sanitary landfill that is currently being utilized as an open dump site.
Felisa Barangay Captain Mona Dia Jardin said the proposal of PASSI is a good project, but in the wrong barangay.
They have opposed the project as early as November 2015 that is why no representatives from the concerned agencies attended the public hearing. If the people are against the project, the barangay council will not issue a favorable endorsement, she said.
Jardin said the Felisa residents have finally united to protect their community from any project that may affect their welfare.
Pugoy said they are presenting the people a better option. They came to provide a better solution, he added.
He recalled that they had previously offered the same project to former Mayor Evelio Leonardia and now with Mayor Monico Puentevella. But unfortunately, the city has a problem with the owners of the property, where the sanitary landfill is located because they will not be allowed to put up the facility in the area.
Pugoy said Felisa is the best site to host the facility because it has a landfill. It is also the best barangay to host the project because it is zonified as a heavy industrial zone, and in terms of social responsibility, the problem is minimal.
This is the first time they have experienced strong opposition, he said, adding that the Bacolod site is supposed to be their fifth site aside from Cebu, Palawan, Iloilo and Davao.
They encountered strong opposition because the people have already experienced bad practices and unfulfilled promises in the past, Pugoy said.
He pointed out that Felisa has complied with the guidelines of the Department of Health which is 200 meters setback from the dwellings.
Pugoy said they are giving better options to the people of the barangay, since Bacolod has no treatment facility that can properly collect and dispose health care wastes.
However, he respects the decision of the residents and the barangay council and that they cannot force the project because it will only create problems, he also said.
Pugoy said he is still positive that they can find an alternative site in the province. “We have prospects, but we cannot divulge the details now,” he said.
Jardin said the Sangguniang Barangay Committee on Laws and Committee on Health will come up with a committee report which will be the basis of a resolution of the barangay council regarding the project.*CGS
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