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Higher sanctions sought vs. solid waste law violators

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, Feb. 24 (PNA) — The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) wants local government units (LGUs) nationwide to increase fines and penalties for violations against Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act).

NSWMC saw the need for such LGU action to boost compliance with R.A. 9003 so people and the environment can be better protected from the spread of disease, pollution and other ills of waste.

"LGUs are responsible for enforcing that law," said NSWMC Executive Director Eligio Ildefonso.

NSWMC Resolution 74 approved this month seeks LGUs' increased fines and penalties on R.A. 9003 violations.

The resolution is up for signing by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje.

In the resolution, NSWMC resolved "to mandate LGUs to strictly implement R.A. 9003 relative to the punitive provisions of the law and to urge them to increase the fines and penalties for non-compliance with the Act in accordance with the provisions of R.A. 7160, otherwiseknown as the Local Government Code of the Philippines so that the impact as envisioned by these laws will be achieved."

The resolution also provides that fines LGUs collect from R.A. 9003 violators be used to implement solid waste management (SWM) programs, particularly for informal settlers' areas.

"LGUs must protect the environment," Ildefonso stressed.

R.A. 9003 defines solid waste as "all discarded household, commercial waste, non-hazardous institutional and industrial waste, street sweepings, constructiondebris, agriculture waste and other non-hazardous/non-toxic solid waste."

"Solid waste management shall refer to the discipline associated with the control of generation, storage, collection, transfer and transport, processing,and disposal of solid wastes in a manner that is in accord with the best principles of public health, economics, engineering, conservation, aesthetics, and other environmental considerations, and that is also responsive to public attitudes," R.A. 9003 also reads.

NSWMC earlier reported the Philippines generates an estimated 30,000 tons of waste daily.

Metro Manila alone already accounts for about a fourth or 8,000 tons of such waste, NSWMC also said.

"SWM is essential in reducing volume of waste for disposal," Ildefonso said.

Aside from helping address the country's waste woes, Resolution 74 noted international events the Philippines will host "must be complemented by initiatives in SWM to ensure cleanliness of cities."

Such events include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next year.

"The resolution isn't for the summit only but aims to help promote long-term SWM nationwide," Ildefonso clarified, however.

Waste reduction, reuse and recycling are SWM's three Rs.

Government continues promoting the three Rs nationwide, earlier noting a 2003 Asian Development Bank (ADB) study showed about 95 percent of total solid waste generated by households can still be reused, recycled or turned into compost.

The study showed only five percent of waste is made up of residuals and special/hazardous matter that either no longer have use or aren't biodegradable and must be disposed accordingly, government said.

NSWMC also previously said ADB's study highlighted the need for SWM as garbage collection is an economic burden with annual spending for this activity already totaling some PhP3.8 billion in Metro Manila alone.

NSWMC said ADB's study also showed the country can save nearly PhP4 billion if recyclable and biodegradable waste can be segregated at source and not allowed to end up in dumps.

ADB's 2003 waste analysis and characterization survey likewise showed about 95 percent of household-generated solid waste can be either reused, recycled or turned into compost – leaving only five percent of trash for disposal, NSWMC added. (PNA)

SCS/CJT/UTB

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