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Lawmaker calls for shutdown of 420 dumps

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Loren Legarda called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediately shut down an estimated 420 open dumps being maintained by local government units across the country.

During the recent hearing on the proposed P27.1-billion budget of the DENR for 2018, Undersecretary Noel Felongco reported that around 420 open dumps are still found in various LGUs. 

Legarda, principal author of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001, pointed out that the use of open dumps is illegal under the law.

According to Legarda, who is chairperson of the Senate committee on finance, some 50 LGUs have been charged by the Office of the Ombudsman for violation of RA 9003 and if those that still maintain open dumps do not close these down, they could also face legal action. 

“I asked them to implement the law strictly because if the other LGUs can do it, then why can’t these LGUs with open dumps. Segregate garbage at source, recycle and compost. Then you’ll have only 20 percent waste diversion to the landfill,” Legarda said.

She directed the DENR to submit a list of LGUs with open dumps and to take out a full-page newspaper ad as part of a shame campaign.

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Meanwhile, the DENR said it is ready to extend technical assistance to LGUs to help them get rid of illegal dumps that pose significant threats to the environment and public health.

“We are here to help the LGUs comply with the law that strictly bans all forms of open dumping,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said, referring to RA 9003.

Cimatu said the DENR, through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), would closely coordinate with LGUs in the formulation of closure plans for these dumps.

“As partners for change with LGUs, the DENR will ensure the protection of the environment and wellbeing of the people,” Cimatu said.

He added that the EMB can provide technical advice to LGUs in coming up with their respective 10-year solid waste management plans, as mandated by RA 9003.

The 17-year-old law provides the legal framework for the country’s systematic and comprehensive ecological solid waste management program that ensures the protection of public health and the environment. – With Rhodina Villanueva

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