Davao City’s Informal Waste Workers Seek Safe and Secure Jobs

Informal waste workers of Davao City yesterday affirmed their desire to have safe and secure jobs as partners of the local government in ecological waste management.

At a forum organized by the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition and held at San Pedro College, 115 participants, including 99 members of the informal waste sector (IWS), voiced the need for inclusive programs and services that will address the needs of the IWS.

“We support the aspirations of the IWS in Davao City to be able to work in a less hazardous environment and to have access to secured employment, livelihood and social services, including healthcare,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The presence of concerned government officials at this forum, we hope, will lead to the delivery of beneficial programs and services that the IWS deserves as an undisputed partner of the society in waste resource management and conservation,” she added.

Present at the forum were Erlinda Javines of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Angelic Paña of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), and Mimia Canja of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region XI.

As defined in the National Framework and Strategy on the Role of the Informal Sector in Waste Management, the IWS includes “individuals, families, groups or small enterprises engaged in the recovery of waste materials either on a full-time or part-time basis with revenue generation as the motivation.”

Itinerant waste buyers, paleros (garbage trucks crew), ‘jumpers’ (those who jump into collection trucks to recover recyclables), waste pickers in dumpsites and communal waste collection points, informal waste collectors, waste reclaimers and small junkshop dealers constitute the IWS.

According to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, “the Framework Plan hopes to empower the IWS that is recognized as a partner of the public and private institutions, organizations and corporations in the promotion and implementation of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) of solid waste management in the Philippines with the end in view of alleviating poverty.”

“The need to protect the IWS from being exposed to hazardous substances and pathogens should induce the city authorities and all waste generators to ensure that discards are properly segregated at source,” noted Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, as well as Ordinance 0361-10, or the Davao City Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of 2009, require the mandatory segregation of waste at the point of generation.

The group likewise reiterated that waste disposal projects such as the planned waste incinerator in Davao City should be reconsidered as this will burn resources that can be reused, recycled or composted and subsequently steal valuable jobs from marginalized groups such as the IWS.