30 June 2019, Quezon City. An environmental and health coalition has appealed for heightened enforcement of the country’s waste prevention and reduction law as newly-elected governors and mayors assume their posts.
In a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition called on the chief executives of the 1,715 provinces, cities and municipalities nationwide to demonstrate their political will to implement Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, to beat the garbage problem in their areas of responsibility.
“We call upon all our newly elected or reelected local leaders to make the effective enforcement of RA 9003 as centerpiece of their environmental governance for the next three years,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The enforcement of this law is a key component of any effort to build and support zero waste, toxics-free and disaster resilient communities,” she emphasized.
“Enforcing waste prevention and reduction measures will help in avoiding garbage from piling up in streets, as well as in averting flashfloods caused by plastic-choked waterways. It will also help in creating recycling-based industries and social enterprises that can provide livelihoods to Filipino families,” she added.
As stated in the law, R.A. 9003 aims to “ensure the protection of the public health and environment.”
It further seeks to “ensure the proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of the best environmental practice in ecological waste management excluding incineration.”
In the next few weeks, the EcoWaste Coalition expects local authorities to convene their newly reconstituted solid waste management committees, which should include representatives from the informal waste sector (IWS).
“The assumption to office of our new local leaders provides an excellent opportunity to review and strengthen solid waste management programs and to establish more ambitious goals and targets toward preventing and reducing waste generation,” Lucero said.
“Recognizing the role of the IWS, we urge solid waste management committees at all levels to include representatives from this important sector to promote their integration in decision-making processes and in sustainable systems and programs for managing waste resources,” she said.
To complement local initiatives, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed the need for the Office of the President or the 18th Congress to enact a national ban on single-use plastics and for the industries to phase out with reasonable timelines those packaging that are not reusable, recyclable or compostable.
In anticipation of floods and other calamities, Buklod Tao, a member group of the EcoWaste Coalition, further pointed to the need for an all-out implementation of RA 9003 to lessen the impacts of disasters, especially to vulnerable communities.
“Ecological solid waste management should be incorporated in all phases of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), including, disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation and reconstruction,” said community leader Noli Abinales, founder of Buklod Tao.
“Waste prevention and reduction is a key component of any effective community-based disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM). The faithful implementation of good practices in ecological waste management will help in reducing the typhoon’s impact to community health and the environment,” he said
“We need to cut the volume of what we throw out as our dumpsites are already bursting at the seams. We need to ensure as well that what we dispose of are safely managed so as not to pose harm to our families, neighbors, waste workers, and our fragile ecosystems as a whole,” he added.
RA 9003, among other things, prohibits the dumping of waste matters in streets, canals, esteros and other public places and punishes such act with a fine of P300 to P1,000, or one to 15-day community service, or both.
For Buklod Tao and the EcoWaste Coalition, the enforcement of RA 9003 is key to building a cleaner, healthier and safer environment that must be vigorously carried out by all local government units led by provincial governors and city and municipal mayors.