By KYLE EDWARD FRANCISCO
VIGAN CITY — The Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) challenged the officials of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 1 to file appropriate charges against local governments who continue to violate the law on Solid Waste Management (RA 9003). This came after the bureau deployed 13 “basura patrollers” to monitor the implementation of the law among the 125 municipalities in the region.
“We commend EMB’s effort to institute a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the law. The success of this campaign however depends on its will to pursue charges against erring local governments and the closure of open dumpsites,” points Sherwin De Vera, Regional Coordinator of the group.
According to EMB-1 Environmental Education and Information Section Chief Ma. Venus Junio, the basura patrollers were hired to inspect if LGUs are complying with the law. They are mandated to check their ascribed areas of responsibilities and take real-time geo-tagged images of solid waste management violations. Service of the patrollers will be from June to December this year with a P12,000 monthly salary. Cases will be filed against LGUs at the office of the Environmental Ombudsman.
De Vera said that last February, the Environmental Ombudsman announced that the office is set to investigate 800 local officials in 13 regions in relation to the violation of RA 9003. He expressed dismay that no local government unit in Ilocos were included in the charge, pointing that many LGUs in the region are still disposing unsegregated waste and operate open dumpsites. De Vera cited the case of the open dumpsite in Baybayabas, Santiago, Ilocos Sur.
“LGU Santiago continues to use its open dumpsite in Brgy. Baybayabas to dispose unsegregated garbage despite protests from the residents, including the three adjacent barangays,” tells De Vera.
He also said that there is a pending case against LGU Sto. Domingo filed by a concerned citizen regarding the same matter. Despite the bureau’s short comings, he said that his group is willing to extend assistance to the program (on waste management).
“Our network will keep tag of the development of this program and will initiate parallel actions for furtherance of the laws implementation. We will get in touch with the field patrollers to pursue cases against open dumpsites operated by LGUs,” De Vera said.
He pronounced that they will prioritize the open dumpsites operated by Municipality of Santiago. Describing the facility as one of the worst dumpsites in Ilocos Sur.
Residents from four affected barangays – Ubbog, Salincub, Alaludig and Baybayabas filed a petition at the Office of the Governor last April against the facility.
Governor Ryan Singson forwarded the complaint to EMB 1 that prompted the bureau to conduct a site inspection.
However, De Vera’s group lamented that even though the evidence against the LGU was overwhelming, EMB-1 never issued a Cease and Desist Order or any charges against the responsible officials. # nordis.net