August 23, 2009 in Ilocos
By ARTHUR ALLAD-IW
CABUGAO, Ilocos Sur — Region 1 cleanest, greenest and safest municipality and a hall of fame awardee for earning the award on the years 2004, 2006 up to 2008, this coastal town however may be violating RA 9003 known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 due to its “open dump” waste disposal area.
Cabugao’s waste disposal area hosts un-segregated, large mounds of garbage that is bulldozed downhill and believed to be polluting rice fields and the water aquifer of residents in Sitio Baliw, Barangay Quezon of this town.
While a concrete wall was constructed allegedly to block the view from the road there is no retaining wall on the hillside slope to hold back the garbage pile from slipping downhill to a residential area, to the creek and ricefields below.
At least 100 meters down the two hectares waste disposal area are 20 households that depend on deep-wells for their domestic water supply, Sanguniang Bayan member Danilo Gasmen told journalists at the site.
Five households share a deep well, according to the residents who accompanied the group of Baguio City journalists in the area on Sunday, August 16.
During rainy season like at present, there is a strong possibility that the ground water aquifer is polluted from garbage effluents seeping tnrough. Now, these residents in the said sitio reportedly have to buy their water needs.
Plan for small scale landfill
Vice mayor Rex Morales said that the area is a controlled dumpsite as they cannot yet support land fill. They have future plan to establish small scale land fill.
When asked why they failed to build a retaining wall to control the erosion of the garbage into the nearby rice fields, he said that they have allotted funds for it and they are trying to minimize waste.
“We are trying to minimize waste kaya may tao kami doon sa area to segregate bio-degradable from non-biodegradable materials,” he said.
Together with other journalists, we went to the area and observed there was no segregation. Sources claimed that these wastes are bulldozed every time it piles up too high.
The vice mayor claimed that they are producing organic fertilizer though in small scale but sources claimed that it already stopped earlier.
Ordinance for waste management
RA 9003 set guidelines for best environmental practices in ecological waste management. It prohibits the open dump system.
Sanguniang Bayan member Teddy Solier said that he authored an ordinance adopting and implementing RA 9003 as the said law mandates for provincial, city or municipal management board to help in the solid waste management. Vice mayor Robles reported that they have the ordinance.
But Solier himself wonders why their wastes disposed in Sitio Baliw are not segregated and that there is no retaining wall and other engineering control over the environmental impacts of the waste dumping area.
Hall of famer
Residents in this town claim that they had been raising the issues surrounding their waste disposal area with various offices and media but to no avail.
They even wonder how the town was able to be a hall of fame awardee despite the un-environmental practice, particularly in their waste disposal area.
According to sources, residents below the waste disposal area are allegedly in a situation where they have no choice but to sell their lands to the local government.
“We are pushed to the wall with no choice but to sell our lands.”
They claimed that the appropriate authorities should investigate their situation as the dumping system in Sitio Baliw has a great impact on the environment and their health. # nordis.net