DENR backs solid waste plan

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Environment Secretary Ramon Paje: Supportive. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Sunday committed to lending his agency’s technical skills to an initiative of the Office of the Ombudsman that would ensure that all cities, municipalities and provinces complied with the solid waste management law.

In a statement, Paje said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) fully backed the three-year Solid Waste Management Compliance Program for all local government units (LGUs) that was launched on Earth Day by the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The DENR commits itself to lending its technical expertise to the Office of the Ombudsman in monitoring the LGUs’ compliance with the law and to cooperate with other agencies and environmental groups to ensure the success of the program,” Paje said.

Low compliance

According to the secretary, statistics from the National Economic and Development Authority last year showed that only nine of the 17 LGUs in Metro Manila submitted solid waste management plans, while only 414 of the 1,610 LGUs nationwide complied with the national plan.

This translates to a 52.9-percent compliance rate for the National Capital Region and a mere 25.7-percent compliance rate at the national level.

During the April 22 launch, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and environmental Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera said the program deviated from the usual responsibility of the Office of the Ombudsman of mere investigation and prosecution.

Best performing

Mosquera said the primary purpose of the project was to recognize the best-performing LGUs based on their conformity with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The law, while providing the legal framework to ensure the protection of public health and the environment, seeks the creation of mechanisms and incentives for effective solid waste management at the local government level.

Among the requirements under the law are: Mandatory segregation of solid waste; establishment of LGU materials recovery facilities; ban on open dumps and littering as well as open burning of solid waste; and a prohibition against the setting up of informal settlements at open dumps and landfills.—Jeannette I. Andrade

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