MANILA - The Office of the Environmental Ombudsman is set to investigate 50 local government units for alleged non-compliance with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
This, after Ecowaste Coalition Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo filed complaints against the cities and municipalities that allegedly failed to implement the environmental law. Aside from the local government units, 50 mayors, 50 vice mayors and over 400 local executives will also face investigations.
Senator Loren Legarda, who authored the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law enacted in 2001, attended the filing of the complaints.
She explained that the law aims to create a healthy environment starting with segregation, recycling and composting.
She added, "The DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) shows that there is only 36%...or 545 LGUs (which) have complied in all aspects of RA 9003. ''
The respondents are cities and municipalities identified by the DENR as the most non-compliant local government units.
This includes six areas in Region 2; 8 in Region 8; 9 in Region 4-A; 3 in Region 4-B; 6 in Region 5; 6 in Region 6; 2 in Region 7; 3 in Region 8; 2 in Region 10; 2 in Region 12; and 3 in Region 13.
Below is the breakdown of the most non-compliant cities and municipalities:
Bgy. Namnama, Ilagan City, Isabela
Cauayan City, Isabela
Brgy. San Jose, Santiago City, Isabela
Brgy. Arcon, Tumauini, Isabela
Brgy. Aliaga, Bambang, Nueva Viscaya
Papaya, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija
Jaen, Nueva Ecija
Bongabong, Nueva Ecija
San Isidro, Pampanga
San Simon, Pampanga
Bgy. Antipolo, San Pascual, Batangas
Bgy. Lalaan, Silang, Cavite
General Trias, Cavite
Trece Martirez, Cavite
Bgy. Pandakaki, Tayabas City, Quezon
Bgy.Kanlurang Mayao, Lucena City, Quezon
Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro
Bgy. Rio Tuba, Bataraza, Palawan
Bgy. Sua, Camalig, Albay
Bgy. Dona Mercedes, Guinobatan, Albay
Tabaco City, Albay
Sta. Barbara, Iloilo
Bogo City, Cebu
Catarman, Northern Samar
Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental
Kidapawan, Northen Cotabato
Koronadal City, Southern Cotabato
Loreto, Agusan del Sur
General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Marihatag, Surigao del Sur
Aside from this, the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau also identified 350 LGUs with open dump sites.
During the investigation, the Ombudsman will require violators to come up with a Priority Corrective Action Plan (PCAP) that will be implemented within six months. Each non-compliant LGU will also be required to submit a 10-year solid waste management plan.
Aside from written notices, the Ombudsman will conduct nine public hearings in different regions to evaluate the feasibility and implementation of PCAPs.
The Ombudsman warned those who would fail to act will either be administratively or criminally charged.
"There will be site visits to determine if there are efforts to comply. If the LGU concerned fails to respond or fails to submit PCAP… or submit PCAP but not implement…one option is to elevate the case," said Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera, who was also designated as the environmental ombudsman.
DENR and civil society units will also help the Ombudsman in overseeing LGU compliance.
"Ang dumi ng paligid is a reflection ng dumi ng pamahalaan. This is also a support for government officials to do something good. Instill in them the need for action, and strengthen their hand in action. We will remove waste from our vocabulary," said environmentalist Atty. Antonio Oposa.
The DENR said lack of budget allocation for items such as material recovery facilities is one of the reasons why LGUs continue to fail to implement the law.
It was only this year that the Department of Budget and Management allowed an allocation of P500 million to aid LGUs in the ecological solid waste management programs.
Meanwhile, Hidalgo shed tears while filing the complaint. Hidalgo, who has been active in environmental programs and conservation for the past years, said the filing of the complaints will give justice to the victims of Payatas tragedy.
Deputy Ombudsman Mosquera said environmental issues should be an election issue. Legarda has called for a responsible and environment-friendly election campaigns.
"(I hope the) candidates will refrain from attaching paraphernalia on trees, heritage buildings...Even throwing tarpaulins in esteros will clog drainage," said Sen. Legarda.