Vol. XXII, No. 106 [ BusinessWorld Online ]
Monday, December 22, 2008 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES
PALOMPON, LEYTE — Seven towns in Leyte province, including this town, are planning to put up sanitary landfills to comply with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Representatives of the towns of Isabel, Merida, Villaba, Tabango, Matag-ob and Kananga have attended a forum on the closure of open dump sites and the establishment of a final disposal facility recently as part of the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Act.
Herville V. Pajaron, Palompon municipal environment and natural resources officer who facilitated the activity, said negotiations are under way among the local governments of Palompon and the adjoining towns of Isabel and Merida on the establishment of a common final disposal faciliy.
"The negotiations among these LGUs are underway. Isabel Mayor Saturnino Medina, Jr. and [Palompon] Mayor [Eulogio] Tupa agreed to have the disposal facility halfway between Isabel and Palompon, so that it would be accessible to both towns," Mr. Pajaron said.
Palompon had taken the lead in implementing the Solid Waste Management Act in Leyte through the Ecological Solid Waste Management Project (E-SWAMP), a joint project of the Swiss Embassy and PASAR Foundation Inc. (PFI).
"This project has set a clear direction of the town’s solid waste management program. In the first phase, we focused on educating our people on how to make money out of waste, and in the next phase will be the full blast of the ESWAMP," Mr. Pajaron said.
Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management law, requires all local government units to shut down their open dumpsites and establish a sanitary landfill.
Meanwhile, Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Sutter has vowed to extend assistance to sustain the solid waste management initiatives of Palompon, a second-class coastal town.
Mr. Sutter, who recently inspected the Swiss-funded ESWAMP, said the project showed that the local government has been consistent in its campaign to protect the environment.
"Palompon is on the right track and I am very confident that it can achieve more in future," Mr. Sutter said in his brief message during his visit.
The Swiss government has partnered with the municipal government of Palompon and PFI of the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refinery Corp. in Isabel, Leyte to implement the project.
The project is being piloted in 10 villages of Palompon, namely, Guiwan I, Guiwan II, Central I, Central II, Central III, Ipil I, Ipil II, Ipil III, Mazawalo and San Isidro.
All the village officials of the pilot areas have undergone fora cross visits and other necessary training seminars for the implementation of the solid waste management program in their respective barangays.
Some of these barangays, like Ipil II, Central II, and Ipil I, have put up their own materials recovery facility for waste segregation.
Solid waste is segregated before these are brought to the sanitary landfill, or the final disposal facility. The landfill replaces the traditional open dumpsite which is environmentally hazardous and also a violation of RA 9003.
Mr. Tupa presented to Mr. Sutter the municipal government’s 10-year solid waste management plan, which includes the conversion of the open dumpsite into an ecological park.
Mr. Pajaron said Palompon was the second local government unit in Leyte province to be given authority by the Environmental Management Bureau to close its dump site.
"The site where people used to dump their garbage will become an ecological park. It will become a conducive place for recreation and leisure," he said.
Local government officials recently held a forum on the establishment of a final disposal facility, a first in Eastern Visayas region. The forum also attracted the officials of seven neighboring municipalities. Palompon, which has a population of over 60,000, is composed of 50 barangays. — Gerardo C. Reyes, Jr.