22 October 2010

Voters urged to pick pro-environment Barangay and SK bets

Quezon City. With the Barangay ang Sangguniang Kabataan polls just around the corner, an environmental coalition urged voters to back pro-environment candidates at the ballot box in the wake of super typhoon Juan.

“Our country, a recognized disaster hotspot, needs grassroots leaders who will take up the cudgels for our fragile environment,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We need women and men who will lead our communities to the path of sustainability and ensure that the earth’s resources are faithfully cared for,” he said.

“Being in the forefront of public service, our Barangay and SK leaders have a tremendous role to play in the fulfilment of the community task of protecting and conserving the environment amid the changing climate,” he noted.

“Now more than ever, we need non-corrupt public servants who will clean up our streets and rivers of garbage, halt toxic pollution, plant trees and guard our mountains against destructive activities such as logging, mining and dumping,” he added.

“So please include the candidates’ environmental track record and platform when you vote and go beyond the candidates’ looks, popularity and resources,” he emphasized.

One of the key responsibilities that aspiring Barangay and SK leaders will face once they get elected is how to prevent and reduce community trash, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the EcoWaste Coalition said, provides a useful framework to guide communities in keeping their neighbourhoods clean and green by not resorting to littering, dumping and burning of discards.

The said law requires the establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRFs) or ecology centers in every barangay or cluster of barangays in order to energize community-driven recycling and lessen dependence on dumpsites, landfills and other polluting disposal facilities.

“Unfortunately, there are still many barangays that have yet to comply with R.A. 9003,” observed Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Citing information from the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the EcoWaste Coalition said that only 6,141 MRFs operate in 6,744 barangays of the country's 42,000 barangays.

In Metro Manila, of the 1,695 barangays in Metro Manila, only 435 are being serviced by MRFs.

“It is our hope that our new batch of barangay and SK leaders will recognize the gravity of our waste disposal problem and pursue climate-friendly Zero Waste solutions,” Hidalgo added.

Zero Waste, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is the most practical community action that Barangay and SK councils can initiate and carry out, together with residents, to promote ecological community values, conserve resources, stop the discharge of climate damaging pollutants and boost local economies.

"It's the best approach to turn our barangays into litter-free and healthy communities that our children can safely and happily grow in," he further said.

A 2009 report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition, listed the following as basic elements that should form part of a community shift from waste disposal to Zero Waste. These are:
  • reducing waste disposal in landfills and incinerators to zero;
  • investing in reuse, recycling and composting jobs and infrastructure;
  • requiring that products are made to be non-toxic and recyclable;
  • ensuring that manufacturers of products assume full social and environmental costs of what they produce;
  • ensuring that industries reuse materials and respect worker and community rights; and
  • preventing waste and reducing unnecessary consumption.

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