By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — After hearing the complaints of the municipality of Tuba on the overflowing garbage dump of Baguio City during their regular session here on October 17, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) approved on 1st reading several resolutions that include requesting the Environmental Management Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to direct the City of Baguio to stop dumping garbage at the Irisan dumpsite.
Earlier, the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of the said municipality passed a resolution numbered 125 urging the city of Baguio to address the effects of the Irisan trash slide on the immediate affected area and the residents there at. There are eight items requested in the resolution as follows: “The city shall assist/provide health services for the affected residents until the hazardous effects of the trash shall be contained; Construction of a water treatment facility at the communal water source being used domestically including provision of a water tank and distribution pipes;
Pending the construction of the water facility and rehabilitation of the destroyed water pipes, the city shall provide safe drinking water specifically for Sitio Cinco of barangay Tadiangan; Stop the dumping activities at the dumpsite permanently; Rehabilitation of the retaining wall; Installation of screens along the path of the trashslide and along drainage canals to contain the trash; Provide compensation to the residents who implemented clean-up activities along Asin Road, rivers, creeks and all the affected areas; and the immediate removal of the remaining garbage, debris, and other waste materials along the roads, rivers, and creeks.
Tuba Councilor Roger Kitma told the SP that while the city has been addressing items number one and three, their major concern, item number four which is to stop dumping activities is not being done. He added that during their meeting with the city of Baguio, Mayor Mauricio Domogan told them that the dumping activities has been stopped. However, there is still suspicion among the residents near the dumpsite that dumping continues at the site.
While the Solid Waste Management Commission has allowed Baguio to resume dumping garbage at the Irisan dumpsite in 2010, they want to request said commission to compell the city to stop dumping immediately especially that it is the rainy season and the garbage at the dumpsite is continues to be washed down.
Transparency in the dumpsite urged
Moreover, Kitma lamented that the city did not allow private individuals into the dumpsite including the Tuba officials who went to the dumpsite to inspect what was hapenning at the site. “I-inform da koma met a dakami nu anya ti mapaspasamak idiay ta apektado kami,” (They should inform us on what is happening inside because we are affected) he said.
During the discussion, Boardmember Benjamin Saguid, Chairman of the Committee on Environment shared his experience when he with a member of the media tried to enter the dumpsite. He said, they went for an ocular inspection in line with their resolution to conduct an environmental investigation of the tragedy. However, they were not allowed to enter. The guard he said told them to secure a permit at the City Hall. His media companion even asserted his right to information but still, they were not allowed to enter.
SP also urged the media to go and gather information at the dumpsite and report it for transparency purposes.
City reluctant to compensate
On the other hand, Kitma said that the city is reluctant on the item number seven of their resolution. Domogan according to him told them that they (the city) could hardly justify the compensation for those that did the clean-up activities. “Our constituents instead of going to work cleaned the wastes from the dumpsite that went down due to the trashslide and the barangay captain has listed their attendance. How can they not justify the compensation?,” he added.
He further lamented that Domogan told them that they in Tuba and other neighboring municipalities frequent the city thus, they are also contributors to the trashslide. It seems he said that the city is using that tone to get rid of the responsibility for the compensation of those who cleaned. Thus, they asked for any assistance that the SP can extend them.
In line with the rehabilitation of the retaining wall, the City Engineer told them that if Baguio will stop dumping in the area, there is no need to rehabilitate the said retaining wall.
Conflicting water test results
Also, the City Health department, Kitma said, claims that their communal water sources are safe for domestic use. However, in the water quality test that has been conducted by their Municipal Health Office, it was found out that two of the three water sources are contaminated. In the document that Kitma furnished the SP, the said two communal water sources are possitive of fecal coliform. They are alarmed at these results while the affected residents are confused ot do not know whom to believe.
“We are not satisfied with the response of the City to our request,” he further said. He was asked by one of the Boardmembers if the City was sincere at addressing the problems and he said, “If Baguio was sincere, we have documents showing that since 1977, there has been consistent complaints from their municipality about the water contamination and the garbage issue and the city has not done anything to address it,” he said.
On the other hand, the SP adopted the Committee on Environment recommendations strongly supporting the Resolution No. 125 of Tuba. # nordis.net