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DENR Sec. calls for collaborative effort for clean and healthy environment

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Better quality of life for all Filipinos through a clean and healthy environment is the vision Secretary Regina Lopez wants the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to pursue in partnership with all sectors of society.
Lopez, in here message delivered by ASEC Juan Miguel Cuna during the Cordillera Regional Environmental Summit at Crown Legacy Hotel here, Wednesday, reminded local governemnt units(LGUs) to step – up their compliance to Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. To date, only a total of 1,388 LGUs submitted their 10-year Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) of which 804 have already been approved.
For Cordillera, out of the 77 LGUs in the region only two (Baguio City and Tineg, Abra have approved SWMP and eight others also in Abra have plans approved conditionally. Lopez also reported that as of December 2015, there are only 9,335 Materials Recovery Facilities (MFR) servicing 12,607 barangays nationwide and currently there are 101 operational sanitary landfill sites servicing 228 LGUs as well as 553 open dumps and 451 controlled dump facilities existing in various parts of the country.
In CAR, there are still 13 open dumpsites, three controlled dump facilities and one sanitary landfill that have been closed and one sanitary landfill under construction, while 44 LGUs have operational MRFs. Others are still being validated, she added.
She warned that the Environment and Management Bureau conducts investigation and inspections against illegal dumpsites, mismanagement of MRFs and burning of waste, and the Solid Waste Management Commission already filed cases officials in the Ombudsman against 55 LGU nationwide for failure to submit their SWMPs and continued operation of their illegal dumpsites.
Lopez stressed that solid waste is also a resource that can create job and give income given proper management but on the other hand it can also be a menace that can cause pollution on air, land and water resources that can bring illness and other problems to people and the environment. ‘We at the DENR certainly cannot do it alone, which is why we encourage the convergence of other sectors so that we may implement strategies to address the problems on solid waste’, she said.
For the convergence, Lopez outlined that the business sector must be encouraged to regulate the use of plastic, avoid toxic materials in plastic production and take responsibility in collecting used plastic goods and ensure that these are properly disposed of. For every household and consumer, it is our responsibility to reuse our resources, properly manage our waste and to patronize more products made from recyclable materials, she added.
As she expressed DENR’s gratitude to all participants, Lopez also iterated that each of one of them can give significant contributions in shaping and protecting our ecological wealth and advised them to always remember that the environmental crisis the country faces should not be seen as threat but opportunity to seriously do what they can to ensure that all Filipinos can enjoy a clean and healthy environment.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.