Mayor Duterte hopes DENR backs WTE facility in Davao City

DAVAO CITY – Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Z. Duterte here hopes the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will support the construction of a waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration facility here.

During his State-of-the-City Address (SOCA) at the Sangguniang Panlungsod on Friday, July 28, Duterte said he remains hopeful that the Marcos administration would provide a counterpart fund for the facility, which the Japanese government has vowed to support financially to start the construction.

He said that the Japanese government vowed to provide a grant but added that the project would also require a significant counterpart fund from the national government.

“Mohangyo lang ko na madayon na ni. Unta madayon na ni, please po (I would just like to make a request. Hope this will happen. Please),” Duterte said.

Last August, the city council passed a resolution urging President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to provide a P3.486 billion counterpart fund for the project.

The resolution, authored by Councilor Tek Ocampo, said the country should seize the opportunities offered by the Japanese government to avail of technical and financial assistance to develop sustainable ways of managing solid wastes.

Ocampo, chairman of the committee on environment, said the Japanese government expressed intention in 2018 to donate 5.013 billion yen, or P2.052 billion, to partially fund the project.

Data from  the City Environment and Natural Resources office said some 600 to 800 tons of wastes are generated daily here.

Davao-based environmental group Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability Inc. (IDIS) opposed the construction of the facility due to the health and environmental risks that it may cause.

IDIS Executive Director Atty. Mark Peñalver said a study conducted by Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a professor of environmental science and engineering at the Silliman University in Negros Oriental, found that WTE incinerators release large amounts of highly toxic substances called dioxins and furans into the air.

Emmanuel was former chief technical adviser on global environment projects of the United Nations Development Program.

The group added that inhalation of dioxins and furans causes an “increased risk of tumors, cancer, asthma, and other fatal diseases.”

“If we want to push for a sustainable Davao City, then our policy makers, our decision makers should think twice in investing in dirty energies and dirty solutions like a WTE incineration project,” Peñalver said.