In the lead up to World Environment Day on June 5, a waste and pollution watch group called for the active enforcement of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, to clean up the 42,044 barangays all over the archipelago.
The EcoWaste Coalition directed its appeal for political will to enforce the 17-year old environmental law to the newly-elected Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders who will officially assume office on June 30.
“The active and honest-to-goodness enforcement of R.A. 9003 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, as well as related ordinances, hinge on the political will of local leaders to put into action the basic requirements of ecological solid waste management,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We, therefore, urge our Barangay and SK leaders-elect to put the genuine implementation of R.A. 9003 at the centerpiece of their environmental and health programs, which also has the potential of creating recycling-based livelihoods and enterprises,” she emphasized.
“They can start by conducting a quick evaluation of existing solid waste management plans upon their assumption of office with the goal of improving waste prevention, reduction and diversion strategies, and targets with broad community participation,” she suggested.
R.A. 9003 requires a comprehensive and ecological approach to managing municipal solid waste via waste prevention, reduction, source separation, reuse, recycling and composting, excluding waste incineration.
The barangay, which is the frontline of the government, is further required under R.A. 9003 to develop an ecological solid waste management program, promote waste segregation, implement a segregated collection for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards, and set up Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in every barangay or cluster of barangays.
To date, only 8,807 MRFs have been established servicing only 10,745 barangays, according to information obtained from the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission.
“Functional MRFs at the barangay level can help a lot in promoting ecological awareness and responsibility among waste generators, and in facilitating the efficient and environmentally sound sorting, processing and storage of compostable and recyclable discards such as paper, glass, plastic, metal,etc.,” Lucero said.
“Moreover, the barangay also has a crucial job in ensuring strict compliance with acts prohibited and punishable under R.A. 9003, including littering, open dumping, and open burning,” she said.