More LGUs to be charged over open dumps, waste law violations

By Catherine Teves

MANILA – The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) is set to file this year before the Ombudsman more cases against local government officials reportedly violating Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, such as those who allow open dumps in their communities.

"We want increased compliance with RA 9003 to help protect public health and the environment," said NSWMC Executive Director Eligio Ildefonso.

Ildefonso said the NSWMC is already validating more than 100 reports alleging various RA 9003 violations by several cities and municipalities nationwide.

"The validation will show if those reports are true, so we can file corresponding complaints against the erring LGUs (local government units)," he said.

The NSWMC, which is under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), targets to complete the validation by July this year.

Ildefonso said among the reported violations is the continuing operation of open dumps (ODs).
The environment official cautioned LGUs against maintaining ODs, saying RA 9003 has already banned them.

"No ODs shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs, which constitutes the use of open dumps for solid wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act," RA 9003 reads.

RA 9003 also disallows ODs as final waste disposal areas. Solid waste is "all discarded household, commercial waste, non-hazardous institutional and industrial waste, street sweepings, construction debris, agricultural waste, and other non-hazardous/non-toxic solid waste," RA 9003 read.

Earlier, the NSWMC reported ODs nationwide except in Metro Manila. The reported sites are in the regions of Ilocos (23 ODs), Cagayan Valley (13 ODs), Central Luzon (31 ODs), Calabarzon (26 ODs), Mimaropa (4 ODs), Bicol (29 ODs), Western Visayas (21 ODs), Central Visayas (103 ODs), Eastern Visayas (44 ODs), Zamboanga (27 ODs), Northern Mindanao (27 ODs), Davao (1 OD), Soccsksargen (1 OD), Caraga (14 ODs), Cordillera Administrative Region (19 ODs), and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (1 OD).

Ildefonso reminded the LGUs to comply with RA 9003.

"Under RA 9003, LGUs are primarily responsible for implementing and enforcing this law within their respective areas of jurisdiction," he said.

He noted that RA 9003 requires segregation and collection of solid waste, particularly biodegradable, compostable, and reusable ones, at the village or barangay level.

"Collection of non-recyclable materials and special wastes shall be the responsibility of the municipality or city," RA 9003 also reads, adding such requirements are in line with relevant provisions of RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

The NSWMC first filed with the Ombudsman a set of cases against erring LGUs in 2016.
Ildefonso said the first batch of filed cases were against more than 50 cities and municipalities nationwide, implicating more than 100 local officials and other individuals.

Ildefonso said while waiting for the Ombudsman's decision on its first batch of complaints filed in 2016, the NSWMC prepare to file the new charges. (PNA)