10 years after passage of ecological solid waste management law, groups lament lack in its implementation

Quezon City. As the nation commemorates the 10th year anniversary of the signing into law of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or the Republic Act (RA) 9003, green groups belonging to waste watchdog EcoWaste Coalition expressed utter dismay over the increasingly deplorable garbage situation in the country and the law’s apparent lack of implementation despite its 10 years of existence.

“In commemoration of the signing of RA 9003 on 26 January a decade ago, we earnestly pray that concerned authorities would finally come to serious terms with the mandate of the law and keep the promise of a healthy and sustainable environment that the law is supposed to achieve,” said EcoWaste Coalition President, veteran actor and zero waste activist Roy Alvarez.

“The 10 year old law apparently has not developed into maturity despite its age, considering the garbage and waste crisis the country is in today,” lamented Alvarez.

“What is very depressing is the utter lack of serious implementation of this law, as evidenced by the wanton violations of its major provisions everywhere,” he added.

Citing recent figures from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) website, the Coalition argued that:

• Despite the law’s mandate for the closure of all open dumps by February of 2004, recent data from the NSWMC shows 790 open dumps that remain in operation.
• While all controlled dumps should have been closed by February 2006, the NSWMC data still yield 382 controlled dumps, an increase of 3 from the Commission’s 2009 data.
• There is an apparent slow progress in putting-up materials recovery facilities or MRFs, which number only 6,957 and which serve only 7,938 of the country’s more than 42,000 barangays.

The Coalition also cited as a major concern the unacceptable location of “sanitary” landfills in areas prohibited by law, and notwithstanding objections by the affected communities, such as the San Mateo landfill in Marikina, the Ternate landfill in Mt. Palay-Palay in Cavite, and the VGP landfill in San Jose del Monte.

These, together with other violations such as the continuing disregard of the “residuals only” mandate for sanitary landfills in operation, prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to request the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, Ramon Paje, Jr., to conduct an investigation of the violations committed by landfill operators and authorities.

Moreover, the zero waste watchdog observed that explicit violations on specific prohibited acts such as littering, open burning, open dumping, construction of dumps in environmentally critical areas, and the manufacture, distribution, use or importation of non-environmentally acceptable products and services, have remained rampant and unchecked or simply ignored by those who are supposed to implement the law.

“Ten years should be enough to teach us vital lessons to learn from and to enable our waste management authorities from the national to the local level to finally let the law have its rightful way,” Alvarez maintained.