Mountain Province Gov. Leonard Mayaen said it is unfair that some of his constituents are accused by officials of Kalinga of polluting the Chico River.
Mayaen said they are doing their best to conserve and protect the river.
Kalinga is planning to file a Writ of Kalikasan against Bontoc to stop the town from dumping wastes into the Chico River.
Chico River flows to Kalinga and drains to the Cagayan River in Region 2.
Supervising Environmental Management Specialist Dominic Sugguiyao said Kalinga officials are backing the filing of the suit as recommended by the Chico River Task Force (CRTF), which was created by Kalinga Gov. Jocel Baac through Executive Order 26-2012 on April 13.
The CRTF reported waste disposal at the mountainside along the Chico River at Barangay Caluttit, Bontoc prompting the recommendation to cite the town for violating some provisions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or RA 9003 and the Clean Water Act of 2004 or RA 4275.
The CRTF had also cited Bontoc for not having an ecological solid waste management plan (ESWMP) as mandated by RA 9003.
Sugguiyao said when they asked about the ESWM, Bontoc officials claimed the document is undergoing revision because of the new guidelines set by the National Solid Waste Commission on waste characterization.
The CRTF said, “Bontoc has yet to purchase a lot for the establishment of a sanitary landfill and that the residents still do not fully practice segregation at source.”
Suggiyao said the CRTF recommended the filing of a Writ of Kalikasan because it also found Bontoc is faced with many constraints in the acquisition of a lot for its landfill.
Like Baguio City, Bontoc and most local governments in the Cordillera have not identified areas for sanitary landfills. Only La Trinidad in Benguet has an engineered sanitary landfill in CAR.
Aside from that, there is no available and suitable location for a landfill in a mountainous area, communities’ approval and apparent ill intent of some to gain from land acquisition deals are ditching these ESL plans.
“We understand the situation of Bontoc but we have to act. If we do not take a decisive action now, chances are they will defer taking action on the problem indefinitely,” Sugguiyao, a member of the task force, said.
He said so far, Bontoc has not undertaken any substantial effort to solve the problem.
Since May 23, 2003 when Kalinga province first raised the issue to the Regional Development Council, there was no apparent significant effort made by Bontoc, the CRTF said.
The RDC even created an inter-agency task force to formulate interventions on the problem. The task force is composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environment Management Bureau, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the LGUs of Kalinga and Mountain Province.
From then on, the task force’s effort was codified in the “The Chico River Watershed Development and Preservation Master Plan“ submitted to a funding agency.
Also, the Kalinga provincial board passed several resolutions demanding communities along the Chico River specially Bontoc “to stop using the river as a dump and for government agencies to take necessary actions towards this end,” but yielded no significant results and gave no permanent solutions.
If granted, the Writ of Kalikasan suit against Bontoc will be the second in the Cordillera after Tuba, Benguet obtained its Temporary Environmental Protection Order and Kalikasan writ against Baguio over the Irisan dumpsite where six individuals were killed in the August 2011 trash slide.