[Editorials of The Connection] RA 9003 compliance an indicator of good LGU performance

The Department of the Interior and Local Government had been handing out the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) awards for the past two years. This scheme aims to promote sound performance by the country’s over-1,700 local government units.  The SGLG replaced the old Seal of Good Housekeeping when the late Jesse Robredo was then DILG secretary.

Uncollected trash i Brgy. Balintawak, Lipa City (photo by Elizabeth Almogia, taken from her Facebook page)

Uncollected trash in Brgy. Balintawak, Lipa City (photo by Elizabeth Almogia, taken from her Facebook page)

There are six criteria making up the SGLG. LGUs must first hurdle criterion 1: good financial housekeeping. DILG has a separate scorecard for this and LGUs that make it are tagged with a “seal of good financial housekeeping.” This indicates that the LGU’s finances are sound , and that these LGUs are also earning.

There are five other criteria in the SGLG guidelines (contained in DILG Memorandum Order 2014-39): disaster preparedness, social protection (or the responsiveness to the socio-economic needs of vulnerable sectors), business friendliness and competitiveness, peace and order, and environmental management. Good financial housekeeping, disaster preparedness and social protection are core criteria, while the three others are supplemental criteria in the SGLG’s “3+1” approach in determining winners (the “1” is referring to making it in one of the supplemental criteria).

The last criterion is primarily focused on LGUs’ compliance with the 2000 Ecological and Solid Waste Act of 2000 (Republic Act 9003) —from having a ten-year solid waste management plan, to having materials recovery facilities (MRFs), access to sanitary landfills, and passing an ordinance  on solid waste management.

Batangas province had won the provincial SGLG award twice, while Batangas City was the first Batangueño city to win (in 2016). Agoncillo, San Nicolas, San Juan, Taysan (2015), Malvar, San Jose and Taal (2016) had won municipal SGLG awards.

Batangas’ most populated, Lipa City, is not on the awardees’ list. To be fair, the city had made it in the passers list for good financial housekeeping. But that may not be enough.

Environmental management may be a supplemental criterion, but compliance to RA 9003 is and has been a challenge for the city, says the 2016-2026 Lipa Solid Waste Management Plan. Lipa now faces the problem of managing the hauling services for the city’s trash, not to mention that only half of the city’s 72 barangays have functioning MRFs. When a previous hauler ended its contract, uncollected trash swept across the city. But even if there’s a new hauler, the problem isn’t entirely solved.

A 2015 Commission on Audit report bared that a P1.5 million budget for the MRFs wasn’t entirely implemented. Residents, meanwhile, are being tagged by officials as uncooperative in waste segregation. But barangay officials are not also prioritizing SWM projects, as city environment officials bared.

For a city that’s now enjoying the economic fruits of urbanization, solid waste management is all but a legitimate concern. One Facebook user who is a member of the group “Lipa City Philippines” complained why is Lipa low in the rankings for economic competitiveness in 2016 for Philippine cities (referring to the annual Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Rankings of the National Competitiveness Council). One reason can be seen: solid waste management is putting Lipa City’s aspirations —of becoming more competitive in local governance— in peril.

Lipa City is in a stinky situation: Garbage is not hauled efficiently. Residents are not properly sorting out the trash. The MRFs aren’t truly functioning and are lacking. And residents are not following the city’s ordinances on solid waste management. While the city government is supposed to take the lead in improving solid waste management, doing such is not because Lipa City, or any other LGU for that matter, wants an award as a better-performing LGU.

Solid waste management is a visible indicator of how a place is better governed. Photos of uncollected trash across the city will all the more drive away visions of a more competitive Lipa City.



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