By Chito Chavez
Following efforts to rehabilitate and enforce environmental laws in Manila Bay, Boracay Island, and other tourist spots in the country, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has issued show cause orders to 108 local chief executives for their failure to prepare and submit a 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan as mandated under Republic Act 9003.
Seventy-eight of the LGUs that will receive show cause orders are from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Of this number, 31 are from Lanao Del Sur; 18 from Sulu; 11 from Maguindanao; and nine each from Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.
Five LGUs from MIMAROPA, eight from Region V; one from Region VI; and four each from Regions II, CALABARZON, VII, and VIII will also receive show cause orders.
“We don’t want another case of Manila Bay. These LGUs have, unfortunately, been accustomed to leniency. The Solid Waste Management Plan is a requirement of the law, yet for many years, they ignored it. Hence, we have no recourse but to issue show cause orders to them,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Año directed the 108 LGUs to submit within 10 days from receipt of the orders a notarized explanation on why no administrative penalty shall be recommended against them relative to their failure to submit the 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan.
“If we are serious about protecting the environment, we really have to follow through with the implementation of these laws,’’ he added.
Año stressed the DILG has no recourse but to mete sanctions against local chief executives (LCE) who are unable to vividly explain why no appropriate penalties should be imposed on them.
The DILG chief clarified the agency never acted in haste in issuing show cause orders stressing the environmental laws have long been in existence but poor implementation by the LGUs has resulted in the poor state of Boracay Island, Manila Bay, and similar tourist spots.
DILG Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said they would not be releasing the names of these LGUs yet consistent with DILG policy.
“We are according these local chief executives due process. But once we have received their reply and validated their explanations, we will be releasing the names of those found to be negligent in the performance of their functions,” Malaya said.
Malaya said the show cause orders were already signed by the DILG secretary and have been transferred to the DILG Records Section for transmittal to the various LGUs.
“They should receive the orders as early as next week,” he added.
Based on the show cause orders issued by the DILG, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), through the DILG “calls the attention of the LGUs regarding their responsibility under Republic Act No. 9003 to submit the 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan.”
According to Section 16 of RA No. 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, all provinces, cities or municipalities through their Local Solid Waste Management Boards, shall prepare their respective 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plans consistent with the National Solid Waste Management Framework to be submitted to the NSWMC.
The DILG chief noted that to avoid pursuing further legal action, the Department is expecting the LGUs’ immediate submission and implementation of their 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan.
“If we need to be upfront and strict, gagawin namin yun (we will do it), all for the proper implementation of the laws of the land and the protection of the environment,” Año said.
The DILG, together with the DENR, has been carrying out President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to clean-up, rehabilitate, and preserve the environment in Manila Bay, Boracay in Aklan, and El Nido and Coron in Palawan, and Panglao in Bohol.