Three presidential contenders have revealed their immediate action agenda for the first 100 days, if elected, to address the nation’s perennial battle with garbage.
Responding to a question sent by the EcoWaste Coalition, a zero waste and climate justice advocacy group, Sen. Grace Poe, former Sec. Mar Roxas and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago vowed to initiate measures to promote and secure compliance by local government units (LGUs) to R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Candidates Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of PDP-LABAN and Vice-President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance did not respond to the group’s nine-point questionnaire on wastes and toxics.
“Since the National Solid Waste Management Commission(NSWMC) is under the Office of the President, I will co-chair its first meeting in my first 100 days in office with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and set its agenda towards effective waste prevention and reduction across the country,” declared Poe of Partido Galing at Puso.
The EcoWaste Coalition noted that a meeting of the NSWMC co-chaired by the President and DENR Secretary has never happened before since R.A. 9003 took effect in 2001 and could surely energize the work of Commission, which plays a pivotal role in the implementation of the law.
Poe, who provided the most extensive reply among the respondents, said “the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary will, on behalf of the President, exercise its disciplinary power of general supervision over LGUs to exact compliance,” adding that “incentives and financial support will be provided as carrots to assist in compliance.”
Poe provided a sneak peek of her plan to bolster the implementation of R.A. 9003, including creating a nationwide communication strategy, establishing barangay-level materials recovery facilities, providing incentives for households that practice waste segregation, increasing the manpower and budget of the Environmental Ombudsman Team and making available the “Seal of Good Local Governance” scorecard to citizens to promote accountability among government officials.
Former Sec. Mar Roxas, the standard bearer of the Daang Matuwid Coalition said that he “will mobilize the DILG to do an audit of the compliance of LGUs to requirements of R.A. 9003, task the agency to work closely with the Environmental Ombudsman in filing the necessary charges against those found violating the law, and ensure step-in powers for the NSWMC once an LGU is unable to provide for the proper waste disposal facilities.”
Roxas added that “the existing performance evaluation systems of LGUs and performance incentives being provided to LGUs must include compliance to R.A. 9003 as a criteria.”
“My administration will support the prosecution of cases against LGUs that fail to close dumpsites as required by R.A. 9003," promised Santiago of the People's Reform Party.
"But besides suing LGUs, we must also help them implement the law. The fact that 50 LGUs have failed to close dumpsites indicates either negligence on the part of local officials or impracticability of the law,” she observed.
According to Santiago, one possible reason for the continued operation of dumpsites is the fact that many LGUs lack segregation, composting, and recycling facilities.
“To remedy this problem, my administration will facilitate the implementation of recycling and composting programs at the barangay level,” she said.
For her first budget proposal to Congress, Santiago will include a research and development allocation equivalent to one percent of the gross domestic product.
“This budget will include DENR grants to barangays that can submit feasibility studies on recycling and composting innovations,” she added.