[Special edition] Lipa’s stinky problem

LIPA CITY–There’s a pileup of not just trash but of problems on how a progressive urban enclave in Batangas is dealing with solid wastes.

A member of the Facebook group Lipa City Philippines posed a question to residents while Lipa City is struggling to manage its solid wastes.

A member of the Facebook group Lipa City Philippines posed a question to residents while Lipa City is struggling to manage its solid wastes.

What greeted the new year for residents of the province’s most populated locality was the swelling of uncollected trash. Residents complained on social media and sought local officials’ action. A new hauler was contracted but only a few weeks ago, not immediately when the trash’s an eyesore already. The previous hauler, in its remaining months collecting the city’s trash, left some trash uncollected.

It seemed that Lipa City was left with limited alternatives. A city-wide solid waste management plan for 2016-2026 was developed only a year ago; residents of a certain barangay opposed a centralized materials recovery and composting facility; a full waste segregation program in 2015 also did not materialize. City government environment personnel are constrained with a lack of resources to monitor how solid waste management is being handled by an entire city of 300,000-plus. Barangays were not prioritizing solid waste management projects as a mandate.

But the city is not even remiss with ordinances, dating back to the year 1993 (before the country enacted the Ecological Solid Waste Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003), related to solid waste management. Even an ordinance regulating the use of plastics and banning Styrofoam was supposed to be a medium-term solution, but its implementation was put to the backburner. But implementation of these ordinances is suspect, and residents are brazenly not complying with an ordinance, the “no segregation, no collection” of garbage (Ordinance number 7, series of 2004).

And residents? City environment personnel complained they’re uncooperative, even in the simple task of segregating wastes. There’s even a history of lack of cooperation from Lipeños, if previous experience from a United Nations-funded project in one Lipa barangay is to be believed.

There lies the conundrum: The Commission on Audit, in a 2015 audit report of the city government, said Lipa City is not a hundred percent compliant with RA 9003. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Office of the Ombudsman are set to file charges to local officials and local governments for not complying with RA 9003. Most of the charges are related to the continued operation of open dumpsites (Lipa City’s dumpsite was closed a decade ago), but the non-compliance to the other provisions of RA 9003 is also being looked at.

Now that Lipa City is booming economically, is being flocked by tourists, and is increasing its population, how will the “Little Rome of the Philippines” clean up this mess?



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