Protests stop collection of garbage in Baguio

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11:27 PM May 5th, 2012

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May 5th, 2012 11:27 PM

BAGUIO CITY—Garbage has been piling up on village streets and parts of the city market since Tuesday because of another protest that has prevented the city government from using an abandoned lime kiln as its waste sorting area.

The protest was staged by residents of Barangay Irisan, who have started to complain about the stench from the kiln, said Mayor Mauricio Domogan.

Because the city’s garbage trucks have been used to bringing trash from the kiln to a landfill in Tarlac province, the city government failed to meet its weekly waste collection schedules in the villages, catching residents and barangay (village) officials off-guard.

A volunteer garbage collector said they were not informed about collection delays.

“We could have warned residents to keep their garbage indoors for the meantime. I went to the office of the city environment and parks management officer [Cepmo] on Thursday and I was told to dig a hole instead for the biodegradable wastes that piled up in our area,” said the volunteer, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of village officials.

Court order

The Baguio government has been barred from using its decommissioned dump at Barangay Irisan by a temporary environmental protection order (Tepo) issued by the Supreme Court in January.

The Tepo was released pending the court’s deliberations over a writ of kalikasan petition filed in December 2011 by residents of Tuba, Benguet province, and Aringay, La Union province, who said the collapse of the Irisan dump last year had contaminated their soil and water sources.

Strong rains dumped by Typhoon “Mina” on August 27 last year caused portions of the Baguio dump to burst, unleashing garbage on a community along Asin Road and killing six people.

The high court directed the Court of Appeals to hold a preliminary hearing of the complaint. The city government was supposed to present evidence on April 20, but the CA suspended the hearing, said Cordelia Lacsamana, city environment officer.

Domogan said the financial pressure on the Baguio government has been huge since August 2011, after it spent close to P160 million to clear the trash slide.

Rules not followed

He said the latest protests were understandable, however, because their concerns were valid.

“We can’t blame them from complaining,” Domogan said.

“I do not run away from a problem so we have started to clean up the mess but if my own lieutenants do not follow instructions … I just don’t know,” Domogan said.

Waste segregation remains a government policy and program, but some households and establishments still fail to comply with the regulation. This, Domogan said, requires storing garbage at the kiln for segregation. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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