Environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez has welcomed a move by President Duterte to go after local government executives who are remiss in their duties to address garbage woes in their respective localities.
“It is high time that local government officials should be made accountable, especially now that we are anticipating La Niña that would be bringing in excessive rainwater and could put a lot of low-lying areas under water for days,” Lopez said.
Duterte earlier expressed dismay over the inability of mayors and governors to manage garbage in their areas, as he vowed to create a special body that will look into the intelligence and discretionary funds of local officials.
The President pointed out that governors and mayors could effectively manage their garbage well using their respective intelligence and discretionary funds.
Lopez, meanwhile, said she would look into the compliance or non-compliance of local government units (LGUs) with Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
Crafted in response to the looming garbage problems in the country, RA 9003 declares the policy of the state in adopting a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that ensures the protection of public health and the environment.
The law mandates LGUs to ensure proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of best environmental practices.
“I understand that cases have been filed against 50 LGUs with the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman. If there’s a need to add more, we will do so in order not to cause more suffering to our people due to dirty environment,” Lopez said.
While a number of LGUs have already banned the use of plastics in their respective areas, Lopez said that there is a need to follow up on the implementation of the ban to get results.
“It is not enough that you have issued the ban, we should make sure that the ban is implemented to the letter in order to get the results that we have envisioned,” Lopez pointed out.
The environment chief also underscored the need to raise public awareness of RA 9003 and the ordinances related to garbage, saying “it is only when you get people to act on community problem that we will be able to address this national concern with success.”
Last February, Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo of the Ecowaste Coalition filed 50 complaints against local executives who failed to implement the 16-year-old solid waste management law. ###