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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, April 3, 2018
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More mayors face SWM raps


The National Solid Waste Management Commission under the Office of the President has filed charges against 50 mayors for violation of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, Crispian Lao, vice chairman of the NSWMC, said yesterday.

Charges will also be filed against 100 other mayors by the Environmental Ombudsman this year also for violation of R.A 9003, Lao said during an interview at the opening of the three-day training-workshop on solid waste management at O Hotel in Bacolod City yesterday.

Lao said they are serious in filing charges against erring local chief executives and will continue to file raps against those who violate the law.

“We have filed charges against the mayors, including anenvironment officer, for the continued operation of open and controlled dumpsites which were supposed to be closed already since 2006.That is a severe violation, in our opinion,apart from other violations,” he said.

Lao said the second batch, which involves 100 local government units, is undergoing evaluation by the Office of the Ombudsman but he does not have information if Bacolod is included.

If it is proven that the 100 local governments have violated the law, charges will be filed against their chief executives. The worst sanction is perpetual disqualification from holding office, he said.

The ongoing evaluation started last year and is being done region by region, he added.

It is difficult to determine how many LGU’s have complied with R.A. 9003 because their compliance is on different levels, Lao said.

“You have to look at how many LGUs have prepared a 10-year solid waste management plan. Because, without a plan, there is nothing to implement,” he said.

From those who have actually submitted approved plans, the question is how many are actually implementing them. But the national government and DENR-EMB continually monitor the LGUs, he added.

Meanwhile, Lao said that since some foreigners were reluctant to go to Mindanao, they chose to hold the workshop in Bacolod.

He said waste segregation is a big challenge since they have to get the citizens to participate.

What has been revealed during the workshop is the challenge of crossing political transitions. The bigger challenge for them right now is to ensure that the good programs will be put in place and sustained. The only way they can do that is to get the community to be involved and to actively participate, Lao said.

It takes political will to implement any form of penalty on barangays who continue to violate the law especially with the elections, he said.

That would require a carrot-and-stick approach. The local chief executive should provide the stick to penalize, but they should also give incentives to those who do the right thing, Lao added.

Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said Bacolod is very serious in implementing the waste segregation program.

“As I said before, Rome was not built in a day, and doing ‘No segregation, No collection’ is like building Rome. It is something you cannot do overnight,” he said.

DENR officials said it took even years and years in other countries to finally do that, he said, adding that “This is probably one gigantic task theywill ever implement because you cannot change the attitude of the people overnight.”

Leonardia said all over the Philippines, the success rate of this program is very low. In most cases, this is being implemented in areas where the population is smaller. Bacolod is the sixth biggest city in the country outside of Metro Manila, so it is no joke at all.

He is looking forward to a more defined and intense participation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, particularly in the implementation and enforcement, he said.

Leonardia said he would prefer that the DENR be the one to implement the program, because it is totally free from political considerations.

“If the DENR will take a hand in this someday, I think this will be a step towards this direction,” he said.*CGS


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