KALIBO, Aklan –Close your open dumpsites.
This in a nutshell was the recent unequivocal order of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu to all local government units (LGUs) in the country.
Citing Section 47 of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, Cimatu gave the ultimatum to LGUs nationwide whilst setting the absolute deadline to shut down around 200 open dumpsites and replacing them with sanitary landfills at the end of March 2021.
The sanitary landfill is a key component of the solid waste management program of LGUS along with the “reduce, reuse, and recycle” campaign to address garbage woes.
Western Visayas has 12 dedicated sanitary landfills in the provinces of Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental; six more are being constructed this year, including one in Passi City, Iloilo.
Of the 17 towns in Aklan, however, only the town of Malay has an engineered sanitary landfill in the mainland although a provincial sanitary landfill in Makato, Aklan, is reportedly already in the works.
The accumulated solid waste in Boracay Island is disposed of at the Brgy. Kabulihan landfill, in compliance with the zero-waste mandate of the national government in the island.
For his part, DENR regional director for Environmental Management Bureau Atty. Alan Ramir Pascua reminded LGUs in Aklan to voluntarily close their open dumps.
“We will continue to secure your commitment to fulfilling the mandate until the end of February,” he claimed.
So far, only two Aklan towns have responded swiftly—Brgy. Bonza in Libacao and Brgy. San Isidro in Banga—shutting down their open dumpsites on the same day the DENR order was released.
It is expected that the two barangays will make use of the fully-operational MRF (materials recovery facility) in Brgy. Janlud, Libacao, which is adjacent to Poblacion, Libacao, in the meantime.
According to Pascua, LGUs without sanitary landfills and while scouting for a location for one could put up temporary residual containment areas (RCA) to accommodate their wastes.
He also encouraged them to pool their resources and establish cluster sanitary landfills that will replace the open dumps.
“A cluster sanitary landfill,” he said, “is easier and less expensive to maintain and operate in a manner protective of the environment and public health.”
He said they will issue cease and desist orders for erring LGUs if they fail to fulfill the mandate. Local officials found guilty of establishing and operating open dumps for solid wastes in violation of RA 9003 and other applicable rules and regulations can be charged criminally and administratively.
He also urged the residents to help in the proper daily collection and segregation of garbage to reduce its volume.
“Kailangan tumulong din ang mga barangay sa pagkolekta at tamang segregasyon ng mga basura [The barangays also need to help in the collection and proper segregation of garbage],” he concluded./(Boy Ryan Zabal/INews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)