by Hanna C. Lacsamana
There will be no garbage crisis in Baguio yet.
The stoppage of garbage hauling in the city due to budget description issues has been prevented after the city council agreed to return the allocation to its original classification last week.
The city council in its Monday session granted the motion for reconsideration of Mayor Mauricio Domogan to return the P75-million budget for hauling expenses this year to the annual budget’s environmental services and its original account.
The fund was earlier classified under the maintenance and other operating expenses of the city. If such action was not carried out by the council, there might have been no collection and hauling of the garbage starting on March 9 if the budget was not returned to its original account, which allows for the renewal of the contract for the hauling services.
General Services Officer Romeo Concio said barangay officials who were concerned about the possible stoppage have been assured that the garbage collection will not be interrupted after the city council acted favorably on the mayor’s request.
In his media briefing on Thursday, Domogan assured the councilors that the hauling services for the city’s waste follows the proper bidding process and shall be awarded to the deserving contractor.
He reiterated that hauling expense is a specific budget and its award to the winning bidder does not require the confirmation or authorization of the city council. Nonetheless, the mayor said that the hauling contract to be entered into by the mayor’s office will be submitted to the city council for its information.
Domogan dispelled reports that favors are exchanging hands in the awarding of the hauling contract.
“We have always said that we do not gain or receive any centavo from any project of the city,” Domogan said. He reminded that the total cost of garbage disposal per ton, which consists of tipping and hauling fees has been reduced by more than half compared to that of the previous years.
Since December last year, the city has been collecting an average of more than 200 tons of garbage daily due to increased tourist population during Christmas, Panagbenga, and other activities. Out of the average volume, 150 to 155 tons are hauled out to Tarlac while the rest are processed in the environmental recycling system machines of the city.
Domogan added that after earlier efforts to find a site for Baguio’s Integrated Solid Waste Management System project have failed due to opposition and for not being feasible, the city is fast-tracking the study on the likelihood of establishing the disposal system at the Antamok open pit.
The area is currently being evaluated by the Environment Management Board for feasibility.
Lasy year, Domogan announced the city has reduced the annual fund of more or less P100M for hauling of wastes to the lowlands to P72M in 2015.
The marked decreased in allocated fund for hauling of wastes was attributed to continued efforts to provide short and long-term solutions to the garbage woes that is draining the city coffers for more than a decade now.