Ofelia C. Empian
The municipal council of Itogon opposed the plan of Benguet Corporation to convert its Antamok open pit into an engineered sanitary landfill with waste- to-energy component citing lack of proper consultation.
In a resolution, the council said officials and residents were presented the copy of the memorandum of agreement between the town, the Benguet Corporation and the Goldrich Natural Resources Exploration and Development, Inc. regarding the plan for their review.
“The matter was discussed and deliberated by the body and unanimously agreed not to ratify the memorandum of agreement,” the resolution read.
The council stated that the “local chief executive should have sought first the authorization” of the sangguniang bayan before he signed the MOA.
Also, the council said the MOA lacks beneficial features in favor of the LGU of Itogon, adding the proponent should have first discussed and presented the project for social acceptability.
“The project covers a 60-hectare area more or less. The host barangay of Loacan, Itogon, Benguet and the adjoining barangays will surely be affected greatly by the project, thus, the requirement of prior consultation is imperative,” it stated.
The council also opposed the payment of tipping fee to Goldrich by the municipality which puts them in a “great disadvantage.”
They said in the MOA, the solid waste management needs of Itogon and other LGUs in the BLISTT will be addressed by the Antamok project.
“On the contrary, the municipal council believes that the LGU should be the one collecting the tipping fee and not any other entity,” the resolution read.
The council also said the exemption from certification of precondition of the Antamok project is illegal. They said the process of free prior and informed consent (FPIC) must be observed due to the impact the implementation has in the community and environment.
They said an ordinance for the establishment of a common waste treatment and disposal facility must be adopted and incorporated in the MOA such as the terms of reference, baseline study, and criteria for landfill planning and site characterization and environmental investigation.
The council denied that they “fully support and endorse the Antamok Project” as written in the MOA.
The council also said the proponents must observe public involvement.
Copies of the resolution were forwarded to Benguet Corporation, DENR, MGB-CAR, and local government units concerned.