By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY ---Two Albay mayors who were earlier suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for operating an open dump site in their localities heaved a sigh of relief after getting a return to work order on Tuesday, Sept. 25, from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The recall of the suspension order was signed on Sept. 3 this year by Ombudsman Samuel Martires that directed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement such order.
Martires in his recall of suspension order also asked for a review of the implementation of the waste disposal program under RA 9003.
The review would determine how capable are the local governments to finance and comply with the law in the setting up of sanitary landfill facilities in their areas of jurisdiction.
It would also define the role of the national government in assisting LGU in carrying out the waste disposal program.
It also called for Congress to review and amend the stringent provisions under the law that affects LGUs, specifically on the context of fund appropriation.
Luistro, when asked for
reaction on the OMB decision, said: “It was a welcome gesture considering that the review has positive effects favoring the local government units.”
Luistro said that even before her suspension she has already complied with the order closing the open dump site on March 17 last year.
She said “when I received the order on March 2015 for us to close the 3-hectare open dumpsite I immediately scouted for an alternative area where we can build a sanitary landfill as a compliance to the order.”
Luistro said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) task to monitor the compliance has prepared quarterly report checking on our compliance.
Luistro said in a spirit of complying with the order, a 5-hectare sanitary landfill (SLF) facility will soon rise in Barangay Marirok in Tabaco City by July next year.
Luistro said the construction of the SLF facility would now comply to the government proper waste disposal program under RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Luistro in a phone interview said the Dynamic Builders and Woodfields Consultants, Inc., were contracted to build the facility worth P50 million.
She said construction work would start next month and the facility would be fully operational by July of next year.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) has issued an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) to start the SLF construction project at Barangay Marirok an upland village in Tabaco City.
As for the 3-hectare open dump site in Barangay San Antonio, which according to Luistro was already closed last year, she said the city government would pour in an additional P18M for its rehabilitation.
Meanwhile, Polangui Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal in an interview said she is negotiating with Daraga Mayor Awin Baldo for the use of the Daraga Sanitary Land Fill once the facility would be operational next year.
She said that the open dump site in Sitio Barobo, Barangay Sugtad was already closed in compliance with the law.
Sampal said, “lack of resources prevents us to implement the SLF so we deem it right to negotiate with Daraga town for the use of their facility.”
Sampal said that as she began to work on Wednesday, the LGU in partnership with the EMB conducted a waste analysis where 44 town villages including business establishments operating in the town were included in the study.
She said initially 16 urban villages have completed the waste analysis where the waste disposal system engage in this village are being sorted and placed in a common compost pit in every village while the residual waste are being converted to organic fertilizers.
Sampal said the town is collecting 6 tons of garbage a day and these wastes are segregated and go to a material recovery facility.
Earlier, Luistro and Polangui Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal were suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for operating open dump sites in their respective localities.
Earlier, the National Solid Waste Commission in February 2016 has warned six Albay towns, including a city, that it would file with the office of the Ombudsman against certain LGUs for operating an open dump site in their respective areas in violation of the Ecological Solid Management Act of 2000.
Facing charges were the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Polangui, Tiwi and Tabaco City according to the Environmental Managemen Bureau (EMB).
In an earlier report, the six Albay towns were among the 50 towns and cities across the country that belong to the first batch of LGU’s that have been assessed and validated by the NSWC to be non-compliant to the ecological solid management act despite the repeated warnings.
The report said the six LGU were included in the first batch to be advised to comply with the law or face administrative and criminal charges.
The commission assessment found out that the five towns, a city in Albay have violated the solid waste management act by using open dump in their waste disposal and despite the warnings, they failed to close these open garbage dump sites as required by law.
Only Legazpi City government operates a solid waste disposal landfill in the entire Bicol region, the report said.