On Water and Solid Waste

1. Of all the major infrastructure projects, sewerage treatment and flood control projects have not received adequate attention and concern. I will gladly introduce an amendment in our budget that will allocate a definite portion of the Countryside Development Funds for these projects.

2. There should be stiffer penalties for those who throw garbage and toxic waste materials into our rivers, creeks and streams which are sources of clean water. But these penalties will not discourage these practices unless actual arrests, prosecution and prison terms are dealt against those who violate these laws. There are not enough policemen roaming around looking for possible culprits. What should perhaps be done is for the municipal, city, and provincial government units to deputize barangay officials to arrest and bright to court anyone who deliberately throw waste and toxic materials into empty spaces, rivers, creeks and streams.

The cleanliness of the surroundings, including the streams and creeks within a barangay should be made a primary responsibility of the barangay officials and its citizens. We should undertake concrete measures to conserve and recycle water to avoid a serious water shortage.

The business of water supply for home and industrial consumption is heavily invested with public interest. It should be highly competitive to ensure safer, cheaper, and cleaner supply of water for all citizens.

1. The National Ecological Solid Waste Management Commission, created under Republic Act 9003, is mandated to address the collection and disposal of municipal solid waste in the country, particularly in urban centers like Metro Manila. Most of the existing dumpsites have breached their capacities and should have been permanently closed as of last year. The still existing controlled dumpsites like that in Montalban, Rizal, at Pier 8 in Manila, and Payatas in Quezon City are also nearing closure since they are not only environmentally unsafe but can no longer accommodate waste materials.

Only the immediate construction of a modern and fully-engineered sanitary landfill will prevent Metro Manila from experiencing another garbage crisis within a year or two at the most. Sanitary landfills are still the cheapest and viable solution to the garbage problem. Properly managed, these facilities, including materials recovery facilities, can efficiently handle the municipal solid waste output of urban centers like Metro Manila. Remediation and post-closure procedures are observed to make these
facilities still available for economically useful purpose.

Sanitary landfills call for investments in millions. Yet those who get the contract to build and operate these facilities need not displace those who are earning a living out of segregating, recycling, and composting waste materials. The materials recovery
facilities, in fact, will help the waste pickers and segregators earn more since waste materials will be segregated and treated efficiently in these facilities. The landfill facility operator would still allow the local government units to manage the collection
at source of waste materials which can no longer be recycled or composted are brought to the sanitary landfill to be properly treated and deposited.

The food and drug administration, the department of health, and the department of trade and industry should be empowered to implement laws which prohibit the use of toxic and non-biodegradable materials in commercial products. Local government units should be directed by the national government to pass ordinances requiring firms selling products contained in plastic or non-biodegradable packages to institute a system of recollecting and the proper handling of such containers. A law which will ban the use of certain packaging materials for health and environmental reasons is long overdue.

Reference: Greenpeace. org


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