Photos courtesy of Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Over 50 groups affiliated with the EcoWaste Coalition, a grassroots environmental network, expressed dissatisfaction with the inadequate headship by President Benigno S. Aquino III in solving the nation’s longstanding battle against garbage.
Through a 12-point questionnaire, the groups, many of whom have a long history of fighting the corruption-riddled “hakot-tambak” (collect-dump) system of managing discards and promoting eco-solutions, rated P-Noy’s performance, lamenting the failure of his government to shut down polluting dumpsites and overturn costly obsession with technology fixes such as landfills and incinerators.
“For not showing decisive interest, leadership and action in preventing and reducing garbage and all its attendant problems, we give the Executive Department headed by the President an overall grade of 2.65 points out of 10,” stated Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
The Aquino administration ranked lowest in terms of integrating waste pickers in ecological solid waste management programs, in enforcing the ban on waste incineration, in prohibiting the open burning of discards, in disallowing the entry of toxic waste and in ensuring the environmentally-sound management of hazardous waste materials such as electronic waste, and in directing the closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of illegal dumpsites.
“This is not to put down the President, but to notify him about the severity of the problems and persuade him to urgently delve into green governance issues such as zero waste resource management,” he clarified.
“For sure, there were some environmental pronouncements and initiatives during the past 12 months, but we frankly expect more from P-Noy because he has an outstanding social contract with the Filipino people ,” he emphasized.
To demonstrate his determination to keep our communities and ecosystems safe from garbage and pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition asked P-Noy to chair at least one full meeting of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, which is under the Office of the President, secure its budget and set its direction, prioritizing the calling for public consultation in coming up with the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging, as required by R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
It is imperative likewise for the President to exercise his supervisory power and authority over the local government units, as the prime enforcers of R.A. 9003, and unhesitatingly hold fully accountable the laggards among the local chief executivesin the no-nonsense implementation of the law.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which is under the power of control of the President, should already close the illegal dumpsites all over the country.
To ensure wide participation of the people, DENR should likewise subject proposed regulatory measures to a public comment period for at least 60 days.
“We’re not losing hope and we look forward to a better-looking report card next year for the sake of Mother Earth and our people,” Alvarez added.
Here’s P-Noy report card on waste and pollution issues, 10 points being the highest grade possible:
1. For not voicing his support loud enough towards a “litter-free Pilipinas,” the President collected 3.06 points.
2. For failing to stop the wasteful and polluting practice of open burning, the government obtained 2.40 points.
3. For letting incinerator “monsters” destroy resources and pollute communities, government regulators received 2.24 points.
4. For the lax enforcement of the required sorting of reusable, recyclable, compostable and residual discards at source, the national and local authorities earned 2.88 points.
5. For not taking resolute action to close, clean up and rehabilitate some 790 open dumpsites and 382 controlled dumpsites, and for not establishing enough materials recovery facilities or ecology centers to replace these pollution hotspots, the government got 2.50 points.
6. For allowing the construction and operation dirty disposal technologies in environmentally-critical places such as the Marikina watershed area in Sierra Madre, the government gathered 2.66 points.
7. For the inactive promotion of composting as the best approach to managing organics, the authorities got 3.08 points.
8. For the slow progress in including waste pickers in formal waste management programs, the government got the lowest mark at 2.18 points.
9. For the sluggish action to ban the production, distribution or use of “non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials,” the authorities collected 2.58 points.
10. For failing to curb the entry of toxic waste and ensure the environmentally-sound management of hazardous waste such as electronic waste, the government got 2.46 points.
11. For the ineffective public information and education on ecological waste management, the government received 3.16 points.
12. And lastly, for not pushing Zero Waste enough as a concrete pollution, climate and unemployment solution, P-Noy and his administration received 2.58 points.