The Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) challenged the officials of the Environmental Management Bureau’s (EMB) in Region 1 to file appropriate charges against local governments who continue to violate the Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003). This came after the bureau deployed 13 “basura patrollers” to monitor the implementation of the law among the 125 municipalities in the region.
“We commend EMB’s effort to institute mechanism to monitor the implementation of the law. The success of this campaign however depends on its will to pursue charges against erring local governments and the closure of open dumpsites,” points Sherwin De Vera, Regional Coordinator of the group.
According to EMB-1 Environmental Education and Information Section Chief Ma. Venus Junio, six basura patrollers were deployed in Pangasinan, 3 in Ilocos Sur and 2 each in La Union and Ilocos Norte. The 13 basura patrollers were assigned to monitor a maximum of 10 municipalities in all 125 municipalities in Region 1.
Junio said the basura patrollers were hired to inspect if LGUs are complying with the law. They are mandated to check their ascribed areas of responsibilities and take real-time geo-tagged images of solid waste management violations. Service of the patrollers will be from June to December this year with a P12,000 monthly salaray. Cases will be filed against LGUs to the office of the Environmental Ombudsman.
“Administrative sanctions may be filed against the non-compliant LGUs which may result to cases that can be filed to the Environmental Ombudsman,” EMB-1 information officer Maynard J. Cara added.
De Vera said that last February, the Environmental Ombudsman announced that the office is set to investigate 800 local officials in 13 regions in relation to violation of RA 9003. He expressed dismay that no local government units were included in the charge, pointing that many LGUs in the region are still disposing unsegregated wastes and operates open dumpsites. Despite the bureau’s shortcomings, he said that his group is willing to extend assistance to the program.
“Our network will keep tag of the development of this program and will initiate parallel actions for furtherance of the laws implementation. We will get in touch with the field patrollers to pursue cases against open dumpsites operated by LGUs,” De Vera said. (Sherwin de Vera)