Jail mayors violating waste laws—DENR chief

First Posted 11:53:00 10/05/2009

MANILA, Philippines — Local officials who do not comply with proper solid waste management laws should be imprisoned for the devastation their neglect caused in the flooding last week, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said at a hearing in the Senate on Monday.

“We have to put some mayors in jail,” Atienza told the Senate committee on climate change as he expressed dismay over the low compliance of local officials to the ecological solid waste management law which he said contributed to the destruction caused by storm “Ondoy.”

Technically and legally, Atienza said, no local government unit should be allowed to operate an open dump site.

But today, he said, there are still 700 open dumpsites operating in the country, including one very near Laguna de Bay.

“So all of these are contributory to the calamity that we have experienced and we just have to be filing cases and putting some people to jail if you ask me,” Atienza said.

He said there has been low compliance with the law since its implementation in January 2001.

“We started from a measly 5.7 percent compliance. Now, we are on a 13.1-percent compliance. Legally, as you have prescribed it in the law, each barangay (village) must have an MRF—materials reduction facility,” he said.

“Right now, only about 13 percent of them have this kind of facility put up. So we have just been overtaken by the calamity. The process started but as I said, sadly and tragically, we’ve been overtaken by what has been impending all these time,” he said.

Senator Loren Legarda, who chairs the committee, said there should be a shame list of those who cannot even manage their garbage.

Maila Ager

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