Press Release
June 25, 2008

Pia proposes summit to avert 'garbage war' in Metro Manila

To avert the looming "garbage war" between Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Senator Pia S. Cayetano has proposed the convening of an "ecological solid waste management summit" that would map out plans to reduce the massive waste generated by the metropolis and gradually lessen its dependence on sanitary landfills.

"Metro Manila's dumpsite problem will never end until local governments are able to drastically reduce their garbage output as mandated by Republic Act 9003 (the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001)," said Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and Co-Chairperson of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Solid Waste Management Act.

Cayetano pushed the proposal after the Rizal provincial government refused to accept garbage from the MMDA to its 19-hectare landfill in Rodriguez town after MMDA's 45-day lease extension to the facility expired last Sunday. In protest, four trucks fully loaded with garbage were parked and left in front of the MMDA office yesterday upon the orders of the Makati City government.

The lady senator said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza and MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando should take the initiative of convening the summit with the 17 mayors, along with major stakeholders like business groups, neighborhood associations and environmentalists.

The summit, she said, would aim to bring out a consensus on medium- and long-term plans to radically reduce Metro Manila's garbage output estimated at 7,417 tons per day.

"What always happens is that MMDA just looks for an alternative dumpsite when the one it uses is shut down or when its lease expires. It's getting to be an ugly cycle, especially when we don't see any dramatic improvements in compliance with RA 9003."

The landmark law, she added, was envisioned to drastically reduce the country's garbage output from waste segregation at source, to proper collection, treatment and disposal using the best environmental practice.

Citing latest data from the Metro Manila Solid Waste Management Board, she said the average diversion rate of Metro Manila's 17 cities and municipalities is only 26 percent. "Diversion rate" refers to activities, such as recycling and reuse, which reduce or eliminate the amount of solid wastes brought to waste disposal facilities.

"This low diversion rate means that about 74 percent, or about 5,637 tons of garbage generated by Metro Manila, all end up in landfills and dumpsites, or perhaps dumped illegally into our rivers and esteros."

But she clarified that not all LGUs have failed to keep with the law's requirements. She cited Marikina City and Quezon City which currently register the highest diversion rates in the metropolis at 40 percent and 37.58 percent, respectively.

The rest of those with higher than average diversion rates are as follows: Malabon (33.4%), San Juan (32.9%), Navotas (28%), Makati (27%), Caloocan (26.83%), Las Pinas (27%), Manila (26%).

"If we consider studies showing that up to 70 percent of garbage can actually be reused or recycled, the 26 percent diversion rate in Metro Manila is really quite low and yet, compliance is even much lower. We have to end this vicious cycle of dependence on landfills," she concluded.

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