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Baguio’s garbage woes refuse to disappear

BAGUIO CITY—The city’s continuing garbage problem indicates that residents and businesses here have failed to comply with a policy on waste segregation, a city official said.

Councilor Peter Fianza, a former city administrator, said the city was able to reduce the wastes generated here in 2008 due to residents’ awareness about segregation and recycling.

“We observed then that there was success in waste reduction. But lately, we have not noticed any change. It will appear on our records that the volume of garbage dumped in [landfills in] Tarlac and Urdaneta City has increased,” Fianza said.

“We may not have improved the system of handling our garbage, from the storage, to handling, and then segregation,” he added.

Fianza warned that should the city fail to reduce its wastes, the local government would spend more for hauling and dumping, especially during the rainy season.

He said the city used to generate 117 to 130 tons of garbage a day, but the volume increased to 140 to 160 tons daily.

He said during the rainy season, the city spends more because garbage is heavier due to water absorption.

Fianza said the amount the city pays to landfill operators depends on the weight of garbage being dumped in their facilities.

“The garbage should be kept dry as much as possible, and if it is doable, the dump should have a roof or should be covered to avoid water seepage,” he said.

The city government, he said, has been spending around P260,000 a day for hauling and tipping fees.

“About P300,000 a day is spent for taking care of biodegradable and nonbiodegradable wastes. This amount does not even include personnel cost, [garbage] collection from barangays to staging areas and the cost of dump trucks,” Fianza said.

In the multisectoral workshop, “Demystifying the city budget for waste management,” held at the University of the Philippines Baguio on Sept. 25, participants assailed the city government for using more than P214 million of the city’s 2013 budget for solid waste management.

“Clearly, the solution to the garbage problem in Baguio is nowhere in sight, despite the millions of pesos that are poured into the office that is tasked to manage the solid wastes of the city. A question that begs to be answered is: ‘Is the P214-million budget for solid waste management being used properly and is there room for improvement?’” the participants said in a statement.

They added: “This gives space for concerned citizens of Baguio to exert vigilance in monitoring how waste management funds are spent, and to get involved in ensuring that public funds are used properly.” Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Tags: Baguio , garbage crisis , News , Regions

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