By Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK
THE EcoWaste Coalition pleaded to the thousands of aspiring barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders to take the cudgels for Mother Earth and make environment protection their priority projects.
The Philippine based environmental group made the plea Saturday shortly after the Commission on Elections started a seven day period wherein it will receive the Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) from aspiring barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders nationwide.
EcoWaste Coalition Zero Waste Campaigner Daniel Alejandre, in a statement, said the nation needs leaders at the grassroots level who care for the environment.
“We need grassroots leaders who will inspire and guide our communities to the cause of environmental conservation and protection and make sure that our ‘common home’ is cared for.”
Alejandre pointed out that “as front liners of public service, Barangay and SK leaders have a huge responsibility in making our neighborhoods clean, healthy and safe for everyone, especially for children who are most vulnerable to harm and illness.”
The anti-waste advocate said environmental laws should be implemented at the barangay level through the religious enforcement of laws that protect Mother Earth.
“We need public servants who will help in local government unit (LGU) enforcement of environmental laws and regulations that seek to protect our air, water, soil and our people against damaging and polluting activities,” Alejandre said.
“One of these laws is Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which emphasizes waste prevention, volume reduction, segregation at source, recycling and composting through the adoption of best environmental practices in ecological solid waste management excluding incineration,” he added.
As stated in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP for 2017-2022), “LGU compliance with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act has been low and majority of local areas are still unserved by solid waste management (SWM) facilities or materials recovery facilities (MRFs).”
According to the PDP, “only 31.28 percent of barangays are covered by SWM facilities and 30.92 percent by MRFs below the 2016 targets of 67.39 percent and 77.10 percent, respectively.”
R.A. 9003 requires the establishment of MRFs or ecology centers in every barangay or cluster of barangays “to receive, sort, process and store compostable and recyclable materials efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner.”
“These MRFs have the potential to boost community-driven ecological waste management that will reduce hauling costs, conserve resources, prevent spillage of plastics to water bodies, and foster environmental values among the people,” Alejandre said.
“We hope that those running for the May 14 Barangay and SK polls do recognize the importance of enforcing R.A. 9003 in their localities and their role to get the law implemented.”
Meanwhile, the Coalition expressed confidence that contenders in the barangay polls will address garbage and other pressing environmental concerns in their electoral platforms, and that voters will support pro-Mother Earth candidates at the ballot box come polling day.
Last Friday, the EcoWaste Coalition launched its campaign for waste-free Barangay and SK elections outside the headquarters of the Commission on Elections and in the presence of Commissioner Luie Tito Guia.
“As actions speak louder than words, we urge candidates to campaign in a manner that will not misuse resources, dirty the surroundings and cause damage to community health and environment,” the group said.