By Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK
IN the lead up to World Environment Day on June 5, an environment and public health watchdog called on the sitting administration to actively enforce Republic Act 9003 (the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) and clean up the country’s 42,044 barangays.
The EcoWaste Coalition directed its appeal to the Duterte administration for it to exert political will and enforce the 17-year old environmental law as the newly-elected Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders assumes office at the end of this month.
“The active and honest-to-goodness enforcement of R.A. 9003 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, as well as related ordinances, hinge on the political will of local leaders to put into action the basic requirements of ecological solid waste management,” said EcoWaste Coalition National Coordinator Aileen Lucero.
At the same time, Lucero urged “our Barangay and SK leaders-elect to put the genuine implementation of R.A. 9003 at the centerpiece of their environmental and health programs, which also has the potential of creating recycling-based livelihoods and enterprises.”
“They can start by conducting a quick evaluation of existing solid waste management plans upon their assumption of office with the goal of improving waste prevention, reduction and diversion strategies, and targets with broad community participation,” she suggested.
R.A. 9003 requires a comprehensive and ecological approach to managing municipal solid waste via waste prevention, reduction, source separation, reuse, recycling and composting, excluding waste incineration.
The barangay, which is the front line of the government, is further required under R.A. 9003 to develop an ecological solid waste management program, promote waste segregation, implement a segregated collection for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards, and set up Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in every barangay or cluster of barangays.
To date, only 8,807 MRFs have been established servicing only 10,745 barangays, according to information obtained from the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission.
“Functional MRFs at the barangay level can help a lot in promoting ecological awareness and responsibility among waste generators, and in facilitating the efficient and environmentally sound sorting, processing and storage of compostable and recyclable discards such as paper, glass, plastic, metal, etc.,” Lucero said.
“Moreover, the barangay also has a crucial job in ensuring strict compliance with acts prohibited and punishable under R.A. 9003, including littering, open dumping, and open burning,” she said.