Issue of September 17, 2017
     
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Baguio pays out P1 B for waste hauling in 10 yrs
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

The City of Baguio has already spent roughly P1 billion for the transport and hauling of its garbage in 10 years, an amount the city government is trying to cut through a permanent disposal area and applicable technology. 

However, managing solid wastes through segregation at the moment remains the key in winning a big part of Baguio’s battle against garbage woes and the mounting cost of its disposal, pending the realization of the city’s plans for a long term and integrated solid waste management system.

In the weekly Talakayan sa Environment Code of Baguio that dwelled on ecological solid waste management, City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente said the city to date has paid about P1B for the hauling of the city’s garbage.

She estimated the annual garbage disposal expense at P100 million, more or less P80M of which is spent for hauling and tipping fees in Capas, Tarlac; and for personnel, garbage trucks, and other operating expenses.

The city currently produces 400 tons of wastes a day and its residual wastes are transported to Capas. This year’s budget for garbage disposal is P78M.

“Our current waste disposal system has been consuming a lot of money already. So pending our plans, I hope magkaroon tayo ng 20-20 vision para magkaron ng malinaw na plano. We have to drum up reduction at source para mas konti ang itatapon, aside from the dilemma we have on the transfer/sorting station,” Clemente said.

Clemente said as the city budget officer, she wants for the city government to use its finances in such as way that it is maximized or optimized. “But as it is, I don’t see any focus yet,” she said, as she also hoped that the mayor’s order to operationalize the provisions of Environment Code for the creation of bodies tasked to look for concrete SWM plans, in accordance with the provisions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, will already be implemented.

She said making available options work in the meantime, waste segregation at source in particular, is a challenge for the city’s General Services Office (GSO), based on observations that compliance to the policy has taken a backslide.  

“Maybe with the new GSO management, we should already be more aggressive. Right now it seems that we have lost enthusiasm in complying with the segregation policy, since the haulers still collect everything, because we don’t segregate. This is a challenge since if we solve the solid waste problem, half the battle (on garbage) is won already,” Clemente said, also in response to the concern raised by Baguio Regreening Movement Chair Erdolfo Balajadia that the city SWM plans are taking so long to materialize despite efforts of the city to implement RA 9003 and now the Environment Code of the city.

Dominador Urbanoso of the GSO Solid Waste Management Division confirmed that only 80 to 85 percent of the city’s 128 barangays segregate at source, with barangays in the central business district, including the city market, still mixing biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes.

He appealed to barangay officials to strictly enforce waste segregation in their areas as part of GSO’s renewed call and information drive on waste segregation at source or in the households.

GSO Acting Head Eugene Buyucan said the city’s garbage problem is a gargantuan task that should be everybody’s concern.

He said the city’s plan to use its property in Sto. Tomas-Apugan for the Integrated SWM Project that should serve as the city’s long-term waste system unfortunately has not worked yet due to the opposition of nearby residents and lack of access road.

Right now, a negotiation with the municipality of Itogon with the assistance of Benguet Corporation and developer Goldrich is ongoing for the use of the company’s Antamok open pit for the establishment of waste-to-energy facility that will enable the city to cut down its hauling cost to P50M.

Buyucan said they hope a technology will be adopted soon and segregation at source is done 100 percent to cut travel time and reduce the volume of residual garbage to be hauled.

“In the meantime we are concentrating on home and barangay-based IEC on waste segregation. The management should start primarily in residences. This means we are concentrating on waste diversion at the residences,” he said.


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