Helpless in the city: Residents dumping trash illegally get away with it

 

LIPA CITY—What do Ayala and J.P. Laurel highways and Gen. Luna Avenue here have in common?

The tarpaulin at an area of J. P. Laurel National Highway in Lipa City is clear: throwing trash in this public spot is strictly prohibited. What is also clear is that residents, whether living within or outside of Lipa City, have wanton disregard for this warning coming from barangay officials. Lipa's city- and barangay-level officials  ar enow feeling the heat of what to do with growing garbage. (photo from Marlon Alexander Luistro / The Filipino Connection)

The tarpaulin at an area of J. P. Laurel National Highway in Lipa City is clear: throwing trash in this public spot is strictly prohibited. What is also clear is that residents, whether living within or outside of Lipa City, have wanton disregard for this warning coming from barangay officials. Lipa’s city- and barangay-level officials ar enow feeling the heat of what to do with growing garbage. (photo from Marlon Alexander Luistro / The Filipino Connection)

These areas all have illegally dumped garbage. In a pile, there are plastics, metals, glass, furniture and food scraps.

Another thing that similar in these areas is that residents from those areas are disgusted. They are also left dumbfounded: who are throwing these growing piles of trash?

For a growing city which still struggles to manage solid wastes, residents and local officials are getting more concerned about illegal dumping. This is happening in areas where garbage trucks from the city’s designated garbage hauler, R.C. Bella Waste and Disposal Management Services, are passing by.

This story in Batangas province’s most populated locality is happening while solid waste management continues to drag as a problem.

Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, prohibits littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and establishments. Violators of the law could potentially face fine penalties of P300 to P1,000 or one-to-15 days of rendering community service, depending on a local court’s discretion.

But not even a while tarpaulin, with a text that says offenders will be fined P500 plus community service, in J. P. Laurel Highway can stop sacks of trash from sitting beside the warning.

Balintawak Barangay Captain Joselito Pagcaliwangan says part of the problem lies with the city’s lack of its sanitary landfill facility and poor implementation of existing laws on garbage disposal.

“We can guard (against illegal dumping) but we cannot do it on a 24-hour basis. We still have to watch out for the stabbings, muggings and robberies which I think are more important,” Pagcaliwangan told The Filipino Connection.

Most of the dumpers, he alleges, were outsiders and residents of neighboring barangays. They allegedly have made it a habit to throw garbage on the streets at dawn, whenever they go and buy food and other items at the public market.

Barangay Balintawak personnel —or the few in number that they are— are also having a hard time monitoring the streets traversing Ayala Highway.

Barangay officials of Poblacion 4, 5, 6, and Marawoy shared the same sentiment. They lament residents as far as the neighboring municipalities of Sto. Tomas and Padre Garcia are among those who allegedly throw waste in their areas.

It is no wonder that once roving barangay tanods are gone, Pagcaliwangan claims some people capitalize on the opportunity to dump loads of garbage in a specific area without being apprehended.

(Although, reports from local radio station CitiBeat 102.3 on the FM dial reveal that Padre Garcia municipality have long complained to the city government of Lipa City’s trash that flows over to the neighboring town.)

Some poblacion barangays have already installed CCTV in areas near favorite dumping grounds. This has helped them deter would-be violators according to Barangay 6 chairman Wenceslao Reyes.

Balintawak is now in the process of installing CCTVs and is hoping to have the same kind of success.

“What we’re asking the CENRO [City Environment and Natural Resources Office is to at least provide us additional personnel so that if our barangay tanod has to respond (to a crime incident), then one will be left to monitor the streets of illegal dumping. Then we won’t have to sacrifice one for the other,” Pagcaliwangan said.

In a separate interview, CENRO Officer Ricardo Libon said that while the city may have no disposal facility, it’s still the responsibility of the barangay to manage the garbage in their respective turfs.

Under RA 9003, Libon says that the city’s only obligation is to collect residual wastes but presently, they had to collect all types of wastes simply because of the lack of cooperation among barangay officials.

“Generally speaking, the barangay officials have no concern. Their only concern is to collect and dispose. They are only concerned with the projects that are visible such as gymnasium, waiting shed, barangay hall, basketball court but their plans for the environment, specifically solid waste are non-existent,” he said.

The acting provincial chief of the Environment Management Bureau (EMB), Luisa Garcia wrote to City Mayor Meynardo Sabili last July 27. She bared an EMB monitoring team under the agency’s Basura Patroller Program spotted garbage dumps in multiple locations along Ayala Highway, specifically in between AMA Computer College and Honda Distributors in Barangay Balintawak.

Garcia asked Sabili to call Pagcaliwangan’s attention to remove the said wastes and closely monitor and apprehend illegal dumping of wastes within his jurisdiction. It would take nearly two months however before Libon wrote Pagcaliwangan on Sept. 7 and by the time it arrived, the garbage dumps have already been collected and disposed.

Barangay Balintawak is among the 34 barangays who collect their own garbage to be disposed by private hauler RC Bella Waste Management and Disposal Services at a sanitary landfill facility in Barangay Bubuyan, Calamba City, Laguna.

Lipa City’s 38 barangays, mostly rural barangays, are left to manage their own wastes.

But Balintawak is also behind its schedule of collecting wastes. The barangay only currently has one mini-dump truck and, like the other barangays, will always have to wait for their assigned schedules —every Monday and Wednesday— of transferring the wastes.

Delays in the transfer of garbage and other unavoidable circumstances such as malfunctioning of trucks thus means delay in the schedule of the collection of garbage in the barangay.

Lipa City had been warned in 2016 by the Commission on Audit (COA) of teetering to violate RA 9003 unless the city’s garbage issues are resolved. From December last year to this January, the city had yet to approve a garbage hauler given the expiration of RC Bella’s contract —leading to piles of trash across the city.

 

 

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About MARLON ALEXANDER LUISTRO