As the country begins to feel the impacts of the La Niña, manifested by higher-than-normal rainfall, environmental health groups are calling for renewed actions to prevent and reduce the generation of garbage that causes flooding and spread of water-borne diseases.
The groups reiterated their appeal for the vigorous implementation of the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) last Oct. 2 issued a warning against possible flooding and the prevalence of diseases, such as cholera and leptospirosis that can make the situation worse with the arrival of the La Niña.
“All concerned government agencies and the public to take precautionary measures to mitigate the potential impacts of this event,” PAGASA said.
“Let’s take our cue from our weather scientists and waste no time strengthening local awareness and capacities on ecological solid waste management to mitigate the detrimental impacts of La Niña to community health and the environment while we address the COVID-19 challenges head-on,” EcoWaste zero waste campaigner Jove Benosa said.
“Intensified waste prevention and reduction efforts such as strict compliance to the required waste segregation at source, recycling, reusing and composting will improve community health and lessen the volume of trash ending up in storm drains and waterways that can cause flooding and water-borne diseases during the rainy months,” he pointed out.
Sonia Mendoza, chairman of Mother Earth Foundation, also appealed to local chief executives and barangay leaders to ensure that ecological solid waste management in their respective areas of jurisdiction is made “the rule rather than the exception,” especially during the La Niña period.
“We appeal to our mayors and barangay chairs to actively enforce R.A. 9003 as its effective implementation will drastically cut the volume and toxicity of what we throw away, limit disposal expenses, conserve resources, and avoid the spillage of plastic and chemical wastes into the oceans, while supporting green jobs and enterprises. Enforcing R.A. 9003 must be the rule rather than the exception,” she said.
Noli Abinales, president of Buklod Tao Katatagan based in Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal, emphasized the role of ecological solid waste management (ESWM) in community-based disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).
“ESWM is a cross-cutting issue affecting all aspects of DRRM, from disaster prevention and response to rehabilitation and reconstruction, and therefore requires special attention,” Abinales said.
“ESWM, especially in the time of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and La Niña, is absolutely essential as the improper management of discards, including potentially infectious face masks and other personal protective equipment, can only aggravate the myriad of health, environmental and economic woes being faced by our people,” he added.
RA 9003 promotes waste avoidance and volume reduction, separation of discards at source, reusing, recycling, composting and other best practices in ESWM excluding incineration.
According to the Metro Manila Development Authority, the volume of waste generated in Metro Manila is 9,871 tons per day.
The entire country generates over 40,000 tons of waste daily, according to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.