Sunday, October 19, 2014

Editorial by Ernesto T. Solidum

Everybody Is Responsible 
In Climate Change

“Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation” is a hot topic during the October 4, 2014 Kapihan at NVC Carmen Hotel. Lone guest from Environmental Management Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR) is Mr. Heherson R. Alvarez, EM Specialist II, R6 Iloilo City.

Mr. Alvarez cited some most pressing problems confronting LGU Kalibo, the open dumpsite in Bakhao Sur. It gravely affects health and safety of residents and students population. Began in 1991, tons of garbage emits methane gas, toxic effluents and serves as breeding place of pests – flies, rats and mosquitos.

DENR memo addressed to then Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo in 2006 to close the dumpsite and use alternative area has fallen on deaf ears until the present Administration of Mayor William S. Lachica. Recently, two barangay resolutions from Bakhao Sur and Old Buswang strongly recommended closure of the above facility citing earlier memo of EMB-DENR.
Mr. Alvarez mentioned that a 10 hectare lot in Castillo, Makato can be common sanitary landfill site of 5 adjoining municipalities of Kalibo, New Washington, Banga, Makato, and Numancia. However, this needs construction of 1.8 km access road. The other issue is tipping fee that would be divided into 40-30-30 percent for host barangay, 30 percent for host municipality and 30 percent – province.

Meanwhile,  the details of the proposed facility is being ironed out. The EMB has recommended to LGU Kalibo the temporary mitigating measure that will ensure that pollutants will not harm health and safety of the community and marine ecosystem. This includes: a) sealing of holes on bottom concrete wall, b) reversing decomposed garbage to be placed on top of new pile, and c) sealing the top with clay soil. 

Mr. Alvarez confirmed that Boracay is environmentally critical based on blatant encroachments of business establishments in declared no build zones. This is to ensure long term sustainability of the island jewel of Aklan and the Western Visayas. Because of this development, the Forest Lease Agreement for Tourism (Flag-T) issued during the time of DENR Sec. Atienza is repealed.

Considering the issue of continued violation of EMB directive to LGU Kalibo since 2006 regarding its open dumping site, Atty. Allen S. Quimpo said that this must be resolved once and for all. Penalties or sanctions must have been done because DENR is recognized authority to implement Solid Waste Management Act. For instance, the City of Passi in Iloilo has been issued continuing mandamus by Supreme Court to insure compliance of environmental regulations.

Furthermore, the Climate Change Act of 2009 or RA9729 penalizes people who cut forest trees, CLOG THE WATERWAYS AND POLLUTE AIR AND WATER (emphasis mine). Now the table is turn on LGU Kalibo and the provincial leadership to address this environmental disaster.

The Solid Waste Management Act provides for on-site segregation and collection of wastes: bio-degradable, recyclable, and non-biodegradable. This is further refined in a Material Recovery Facility using a machine equipped with a conveyor belt. Recyclables like plastic, glass, and bottles and paper could either be turned into cash or plastic converted into monoblock chairs and tables while biodegradables are processed into fertilizer. What is left for the sanitary landfill is 1-2 percent of total volume of garbage.

Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino suggests incineration of garbage since this is very practical and safe practice done in Germany, Japan, and Sweden. What is innovative and creative is that there is no carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere and the facility produces electricity. In Sweden they import 700,000 MT of garbage every year to help produce electricity and heating for cities such as Helsingborg with a population of 100,000. Here the environment is adequately safeguarded with no garbage and pollution. This added value is power generation. Sweden hopes to cut carbon footprints to less than 1.5 MT/person by year 2020, well below the US average of 20 MT’s.

Technology uses no oxygen in the combustion process and burning temperature is 1,300 Celcius. Residence are slag-used as material in road construction and landscaping, ferrous metals-iron and steel industries, filter dusts-backfill in the mining industry and extracted gypsum-construction industry. Since no carbon dioxide is emitted from the smoke stacks but hot air, contrary provision of the Clean Air Act of 1999 or RA 8749 could well be negated.

As government watchdog in conserving and protecting the environment, DENR is very weak in enforcing pertinent laws especially on proper disposal of garbage, establishment and rampant cutting of trees for fuel and firewood in communal forests.

By 2050, Asean countries will have 64 percent of total population settled in urban areas. The Major challenge will be poverty, unemployment and climate change. Atty, Allen S. Quimpo however, cites the positive. Based on data, the Philippines has the 5th longest coastline in the world. We can utilize the coastal resources for mitigating climate change and enhancing economic growth.

The Philippines has 36,289 kms. of coastline and is considered to be the world’s second largest archipelago after Indonesia. However, BFAR data show our fishery output is rapidly declining while our mangroves drastically reduced from 450,000 has. in 1918 to only 138,000 has. in 1993. Nipa palm sap can be sourced of biofuel (ethanol) and now commercially produced in Malaysia. Studies show a hectare of nipa plantation can produce 15,600 liters of ethanol, twice the yield of sugar cane.

Climate change is one big subject to tackle. It can only be solved by active involvement of stakeholders. /MP

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