Press Release
February 15, 2016

Recto: BUB, bigger IRA, budget support needed to collect 15 billion kgs
of trash yearly

National government must throw a lifeline to towns and small cities drowning in garbage so the latter can sanitarily handle the estimated 14.6 billion kilos of garbage Filipinos will produce this year, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

Recto said towns are already spending almost 40 percent of their total budget on salaries, "leaving little budget space for garbage handling as there are also many important things to attend to."

Recto said the country's 1,489 municipalities spent a mere P707.5 million on environment and sanitary services in 2014. The country's 145 cities, on the other hand, spent P6.22 billion, mostly by those in Metro Manila.

"Even if we credit a third of the P3.1 billion that towns spent on wages of casual workers that year to the pay of garbage disposal personnel, that would still come up to a low P700,000 per town a year," Recto said.

Towns collected P260 million in garbage fees in 2014, according to a Commission on Audit (COA) report Recto cited. Cities collected six times more, posting a P1.53 billion income from garbage fees.

"With this small pool of resources, it shouldn't come as a surprise why those on the ground are having a hard time complying with the provisions of the Republic Act 9003," Recto said, referring to what is popularly known as the Solid Waste Management Act of 2003.

The law requires segregation of solid waste at source, compliance with minimum requirements on collection and transport of waste, the establishment of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in barangays, and the construction of sanitary landfills, among others.

But as of 2012, only 7,713 MRF points and 44 sanitary landfills have been established nationwide, the 2014 Compendium of Philippine Environmental Statistics stated.

That year, 606 open dumpsites were still operating, according to the report.

"The problem is cost," Recto said, "because in many areas where land is scarce or expensive, you need at least P20 million to build a sanitary landfill, that is if land can be found."

Recto said government should step in by increasing its "equity" in solid waste management at the town level.

"For starters, RA 2003-related activities should be given a bigger allocation in the Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) resources," Recto said.

BUB is a budgeting scheme which allows Local Government Units (LGUs) to identify projects aligned with national government programs. It has an allocation of P24.7 billion this year, which could also be the minimum amount for next year.

Recto said "LGUs must have a bigger say in BUB funding and greater autonomy to name what activities they want implemented and even to create their own menu, for that would be real autonomy."

"'Yang BUB pwedeng maging 'Budget para Ubusin and Basura'," he said.

The senator is also batting for a "bigger IRA, higher LGU" scheme by splitting 50-50 internal revenues collected.

At present, the share is 60-40 in favor of the national government, with 40 percent being divided among all provinces, towns, cities and barangays pursuant to a formula under the Local Government Code.

However, in the computation of "internal revenues," taxes on gasoline and diesel paid by motorists are not included.

Recto has filed a bill including these taxes in the computation of internal revenues from which LGUs will have a share.

Recto also called for a specific line item in the national budget which would subsidize "qualified, financially hard up LGUs" in implementing the Solid Waste Management Act.

"These are not, however, permanent grants. Just enough for them to get up on their feet. There will be a sunset provision," Recto said.

As to funding source, Recto said "if the six-year National Greening Program is winding down, then perhaps part of its allocations can be transferred to RA 9003 support activities".

Began in 2011, the NGP has a budget of P6.9 billion this year.

According to Recto, LGUs certainly need help in carrying out the provisions of RA 9003. "I don't think they deliberately did not comply but many of them were put in a situation in which they could not comply."

The Ombudsman recently filed complaints against 50 LGUs and close to 600 officials on behalf of the National Solid Waste Management Commission for failing to comply with Republic Act 9003.

"It is not enough that we hale them to court. We should also help them haul their garbage," Recto said.

"There are many services competing for local resources. Araw-araw 'yung mga nasa lokal ay nahaharap sa ganitong pagsubok: Mamili ka, gastusin mo ang pera sa basura o sa eskwelahan? O kaya sa basura o health centers?" he lamented.

"There should be another alternative - and that is increasing LGU income or allowing greater national government equity not just in solid waste management but also in other services that our people. This can be met by a bigger share from taxes and a higher IRA," Recto said.

In 2014, towns had a combined operating income of P146.2 billion, of which P114.9 came from IRA. Of this, they spent P58.25 billion on salaries and wages.

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