By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) appealed for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to effectively solve the garbage crisis, particularly in Metro Manila.
“Solid waste management is not the government’s responsibility alone, it is everyone’s business,” DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGU) Concerns Benny Antiporda said.
Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier declared the country, particularly Metro Manila, “in the middle of a garbage crisis.”
Cimatu’s declaration comes amid government efforts to revive the heavily polluted Manila Bay, which is the repository of trash and untreated sewage from households and businesses in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
“We shouldn’t wait for the time when there are more trash than fish in the ocean,” Antiporda, who also chairs the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), said.
Cimatu said Metro Manila with a total population of about 12.8 million has a target waste generation of 58,112.31 cubic meters for 2019.
But as of the first quarter of the year alone, Metro Manila has already produced 34,574.77 cubic meters or 59.45 percent of the total target.
By the second quarter, estimated waste generation reached 32,221.17 cubic meters, amounting to another 55.45 percent of total.
“The target waste generation baseline for 2019 of 58,112.31 cubic meters has already been surpassed,” Cimatu said.
Antiporda pointed out the crucial role played by LGUs in solid waste management, having been tasked to ensure proper waste segregation and disposal under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
The law requires LGUs to come up with their respective 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) and convert open dumpsites into sanitary landfills, Antiporda noted.
He said the NSWMC had fast tracked the approval of SWMPs of hundreds of LGUs nationwide, while the DENR shut down some open dumpsites and filed criminal and administrative charges against local officials allowing the operation of these dumpsites that pose serious threat to the environment and public health.
The DENR official said that citizens could also help in solving the garbage problem by observing proper waste segregation and disposal, and not throwing rubbish anywhere.
“If we do not properly manage our waste, it can end up in drains and rivers, and eventually makes its way to the sea,” Antiporda said.
He pointed out that efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay would be futile if there is no effective implementation of solid waste management in the localities surrounding the historic water body.