Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Dumped sighs
By Bong Lacson

Apr 20, 2017

ENVIRONMENT Management Bureau (EMB) Region III director Lormelyn Claudio lauded the provincial government for the distribution of brand new dump trucks in all cities and municipalities of Pampanga.

… Claudio said Pampanga is the only province in Central Luzon who (sic) used to provide dump trucks to local government units…

So reported the provincial information office of Monday’s initial distribution by Gov. Lilia G. Pineda and Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda of dump trucks to 18 LGUs “for the effective implementation of the solid waste management program of the province.”

Maybe, just for some insurance, the mayors – upon the initiative of their league president, Lubao’s Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab -- signed a memorandum of agreement for the maintenance of the heavy vehicles. The governor enjoining them to “take good care and properly maintain the dump trucks so the use could be maximized for the proper handling and hauling of collected garbage in the respective towns and cities.”

While we join Claudio in her ebullience over the Capitol’s truly remarkable stride in the direction of solid waste management, we – just the same – would like to remind her office of its apparent failure in Pampanga to live up to its very name – environment management.

Even as industrial pollution has remained a constant in San Simon, new reports are emerging of swarms of flies – from the tiniest langaw to the biggest bangaw – germinating in some bakahan – invading whole communities.

It is no exaggeration, not a few attest to its factuality, that a body lying in state had to be put under a mosquito net else it would be totally covered with flies.

So what has Claudio to say on this?

San Simon

And yes, didn’t Claudio herself – in February last year – tag San Simon as the only Pampanga town included in 10 Central Luzon LGUs haled to the Ombudsman by EMB for violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act?

“The 10 towns had been repeatedly directed to comply with RA 9003 down to the barangay level, ensure the operation of materials recovery facilities, and enact ordinances to compel residents to adhere to the law,” so was Claudio quoted in a news story then.

Furthered she: “Aside from filing charges, we have implemented the forced closure of dumpsites in Mariveles, General Tinio, Jaen, and San Simon by securing the area to prevent further activities of dumping of wastes.”

Last thing I remember of that issue is the San Simon mayor denying any dumpsite operating in the area. Absuelto na po ba, Madame Claudio?

By no means was San Simon the only Pampanga town with a dumpsite, Mayor what’sher- name Wong’s denial, notwithstanding.

Bishop Ambo

No less than then-San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said “dumpsites are everywhere” in the province.

Dared Bishop Ambo any denier then: “My group can give you a guided tour where the dump sites of Pampanga are. Every LGU has one.”

Indeed, the EMB in an order Claudio herself signed on January 17, 2011 recommended the “execution of closure orders” on open dumpsites in 16 areas in Pampanga including the cities of San Fernando and Angeles for gross violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001.

The order was explicit in saying “…the LGUs failed to truly demonstrate their will to close the existing open and controlled dumpsites…”

In October 2012, a composite group of the EMB, the provincial environment and natural resources office and the Alliance for the Development of Central Luzon represented by the environmentalist Alfonso Dobles conducted an inspection of the dumpsites in Pampanga.

Hospital wastes

Among its findings: the Guagua dumpsite near a water body hosted hospital wastes – used syringes, bloodied bandages, plastic dextrose bottles and tubes, etc. – and the burning of garbage was a regular activity; unsegregated garbage is indiscriminately buried in the quarry sites of Barangays Manuali and Mitla in Porac; in Mabalacat, the LGU’s central material recovery facility in Barangay Sapang Balen was “nothing but a sawali-fenced area surrounded by sacks of plastics and in the center lay unsorted garbage” and “a few meters away from the Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway, a pile of fresh garbage is pushed into a body of water that had turn black because of the decaying trash, waiting for bulldozer to cover it with sand.”

Concluded the inspection team then: “…12 years since the enactment of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003), local government units in Pampanga continue to use and operate dumpsites despite its prohibition and despite the legal mandate that the LGUs shall be primarily responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this act.”

That: “The LGUs have likewise shirked their responsibility in the management, improvement and maintenance of water and air quality within their territorial jurisdictions.”

Fast track to Claudio’s exuberance at Monday’s turnover of dump trucks at the Capitol now: Madame, what happened na po?

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