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At the Ceremonial TurnOver of Composting Equipment and Shredders to the Local Government of Pampanga

At the Ceremonial Turn-Over of Composting Equipment and Shredders to the Local Government Units of Pampanga- #CityofSanFernando, #Arayat, #Candaba, #Guagua, #Magalang by the DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, represented by USec. Benny Antiporda. This project is sponsored of Senator Cynthia Villar who was the Guest Speaker. This is to reduce the volume of biodegradable waste than is thrown in dumpsites and waterways and convert the same to organic fertilizer for farmers to reduce production cost and increase their income. #fullspeechofSenVillar -

Una sa lahat, Merry Christmas to all of you and Happy New Year. Thank you very much to the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-EMB) for inviting me to be part of the Ceremonial Turnover of Solid Waste Management Equipment and the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with recipient LGUs in Pampanga.

I hope that the LGUs—Arayat, Candaba, Guagua, Magalang and San Fernando—will put to very good use the equipment (biowaste shredder and composter) that they will receive. You are fortunate to be among the first recipients. This is a long overdue project actually and we still have a long way to go, since there are I think 178-plus LGUs that will be part of this project.

This is in line with the mandate of the DENR under Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, wherein the department is tasked “to provide technical and other capability building assistance to LGUs in the development and implementation of its 10-year solid waste management plans. The budget for this has been allocated to the DENR-EMB in the last quarter of 2016 during the budget deliberations for the 2017 proposed budget in the Senate and it is intended to help in the clean-up of Manila Bay as well as to address the need to reduce the overwhelming volume of solid wastes, which is a perennial problem. However, the DENR-EMB was not able to implement the project or procure the equipment right away.

That is why I mentioned earlier that this project is long overdue. “Better late than never” is not good, but it really is better than nothing. I hope though that in the future, the projects will be implemented on time, especially if the budget is available already. Sayang ang panahon na lumilipas. I don’t need to emphasize that in matters related to environment protection, such as solid waste management, napakaimportante ng oras o panahon dahil napakalaki, and sometimes irreparable, ang damage sa ating environment kapag hindi tayo nakakilos o aksyon agad. Our mentality should be “the earlier the better”.

I am glad to know that to date, the procurement of the 178 composting equipment is finished. It’s about time since napakaraming LGUs pa ang kailangan mabigyan na ng mga equipment sa lalong madaling panahon. We need to fasttrack that as well as the procurement of the 25 units of equipment that will recycle plastic wastes into school chairs. Based on report, the procurement process for the plastic recycling equipment is still being processed. So we have to hasten the procedure with PITC. As you know, plastic make 15% of solid wastes and one of the most damaging to the environment.

These equipment will really help LGUs to attain their zero-waste goals and their ten-year solid waste plans of their cities to properly manage wastes. On top of that, this will also help with the clean-up of Manila Bay which has been mandated under the Supreme Court-issued Mandamus, kung saan bahagi ang mga LGUs together with various government departments and agencies. I won’t elaborate on that since most of you are familiar with it already.

Time is really of the essence when it comes to environment protect measures such as waste management. The pandemic that we are still going through now gives more urgency to that. I am speaking here both as a legislator and as an environmental advocate.

The ongoing pandemic due to Covid-19 has shown us that there is really a direct link between the environment and the spread of diseases. The most critical of which is in the protection of wildlife habitats and solid waste management. Thus, there should be stricter implementation of environmental laws because in many instances, the problem is really in the implementation of the law and not the legislation. We have so many laws already, many of which are not implemented to the letter, so to speak. Among which is on solid waste management, a good example of that is the delay in the procurement of solid waste materials, which is mandated under the law (RA 9003).

Improperly disposed wastes causes infection, contamination and spread of bacteria, virus and eventually diseases. So, we should to take proper waste disposal and management even more seriously. I have spent most of my years in public service not only in drafting laws but by establishing programs and projects that protect the environment in fact.

I spent nine years of my public life, as a congresswoman from 2001 to 2010, in saving the Las Piñas-Zapote River from wastes, my efforts was in fact recognized by the United Nations (UN) Water for Life Best Water Management Practices in 2011. That started my life-long advocacy to promote proper waste management until now as a senator. There should be a shared responsibility among us when it comes to waste management. There is no exception because we all generate wastes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “If solid waste is not dealt with quickly, serious health risks will develop which will further demoralize the community already traumatized by the emergency”. Moreover, the International Solid Waste Association also cites that “Waste Management is one of the most important sanitary barriers to prevent dissemination of illnesses and diseases”.

Whether there is a community quarantine/lockdown or not, proper waste management is important. During the first few months of the quarantine, some waste collection activities and services were disrupted that made the situation worse since the amount of wastes produced, especially in households, continues to increase. If LGUs have their own solid waste equipment or facilities, they can handle their own wastes. Kaya importante na mabigyan sila lahat ng kapabilidad at kapasidad.

I myself have implemented projects through the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance or Villar SIPAG. We have established barangay-based livelihood enterprises that are models of proper waste management and good examples of how garbage can be turned into useful end-products. The raw materials we use in the livelihood projects are from wastes. These are water hyacinths for the waterlily handicraft-weaving enterprise and the handmade paper factory; waste coconut husks for the coconet-weaving enterprise and the charcoal-making factory; kitchen and garden wastes for the organic fertilizer composting facility; and plastic wastes for the waste plastic recycling factory that produces school chairs. So far, we have set up over 3,000 livelihood projects nationwide. So, that equates to a very good amount of wastes processed as well.

I will not discuss it lengthily, let me just cite the extent of one of our livelihood project that produces organic fertilizer from biodegradable waste which is 50% of our waste. We have facilitated the establishment of composting centers in barangays and the collection of kitchen at garden wastes in the households to be brought to the composting facility. In my home city of Las Pinas alone, we now have 80 composters utilized by over 40,000 households producing 60 tons of organic fertilizer every month which we giveaway to farmer and urban garden.

When we talk of solid wastes, as I cited earlier, plastic is also 15%. Plastic pollution, as the United Nations put it, is now a “planetary crisis”. And the Philippines, based on a University of Georgia study, ranked third, next to China and Indonesia (among 192 countries surveyed), in terms of volume of plastic wastes produced by the population that goes into the ocean. Thus, efforts to reduce or eliminate plastic wastes are very important and crucial in this part of the world. Kaya naman, PITC should speed up procuring the waste plastics recycling equipment already.

I cited earlier that most of the time, it is the implementation of the law that is the problem. For instance, despite being enacted for two decades now, the implementation of Republic Act 9003, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, remains to be a challenge especially for the LGUs.

The absence or incorrect way of waste segregation, inefficient collection of wastes, improper waste disposal, the inadequacy of disposal facilities and the lack of funding to put up efficient sanitary landfills are some of the challenges that persist. The LGUs, largely tasked with the responsibilities of waste management, continuously struggle in implementing the provisions of RA No. 9003. I have also discussed that many times with the DENR as the one in charge of the implementation of environmental laws.

I have filed a bill that seeks to institutionalize the practice of Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR), especially in industries that generate plastic waste, as an additional mechanism towards achieving an efficient solid waste management. The bill will also amend RA 9003, the definition of EPR is included in the law as “referring to either the environmental policy or practice in which producers, in coordination with distributors and retailers, have the responsibility for the proper and effective disposal of their products after they have been sold to and used by consumers with the objectives of reducing waste generation and of improving recyclability or reusability of wastes, which include plastic containers or packaging materials.”.

EPR is included as an additional institutional mechanism in solid waste management. A new Section 14 will be inserted under RA 9003. Among its provisions is that “All producers, in coordination with distributors and retailers, shall adopt mechanisms and strategies for the effective and proper management of the wastes, such as discarded containers and packaging materials, generated from the use or consumption of the products they produced, distributed, retailed or sold, as the case may be”.

And that: “Producers, distributors and retailers performing their respective EPR, as determined by the department, shall be eligible to incentives. Provided, that their EPR mechanisms and strategies are submitted to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, as well as the concerned Provincial Solid Waste Management Board and/or City or Municipal Solid Waste Management Board, which shall include EPR incentives in their respective solid waste management plans”.

At this point, I want also to emphasize that Pampanga is one of the our big rice producing provinces. One reason why we are distributing composting facilities that will produce organic fertilizer because wth certain additives prescribed by Philippine Rice Institute, our organic fertilizer can be used as fertilizer for rice. The rice farmers won’t have to spend money to buy fertilizer because they can make their own organic fertilizer for rice and this practice will benefit the rice farmers forever. We are not only solving our waste management problem but at the same time, we are helping the rice farmers bring down their costs of production for the benefit of the consumers. I hope the towns and city in Pampanga who are recipient of these composters will allow our rice farmers benefit from these organic fertilizer production. Let us do our waste management seriously. Maraming salamat. God bless and stay safe.







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