BAGUIO CITY – Outgoing Major Mauricio G. Domogan challenged the environment department to immediately work out the segregation of lands in the different parts of the country that are suitable for the put up of solid waste disposal projects of local governments instead of wilfully classifying them as alienable and disposable and awarding them to landless people.
The local chief executive claimed it is the environment department that is in possession of the maps of lands in the country and they already know which among the lands are feasible for solid waste disposal projects, thus, the same must be immediately segregated for public needs rather than reclassifying the same as alienable and disposable and eventually awarding such lands to interested applicants further increasing the city’s population and increasing built-up areas.
“The DENR is key in lessening the problems of local governments in locating lands suitable for the establishment of their solid waste disposal projects by already segregating the ones, based on their assessment, feasible for such purpose because they know which among the existing vacant lands in certain areas in the country are feasible for such environmentally critical projects,” Domogan stressed.
He added that the immediate segregation of public lands for the solid waste projects of local government units should take precedence over applications for the titling of the same lands to individual applicants because public need should always be the utmost consideration of experts in determining whether or not to reclassify public lands into alienable and disposable lands.
According to him, the primary reason why most local government units in the country have a difficult time establishing their own independent or clustered solid waste disposal facilities is the absence of lands classified for such purpose in their areas of jurisdiction thus the environment department should always be at the forefront of such issues to help in facilitating the compliance of local governments to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Under the law, local governments are mandated to close the operation of their open dumpsites and establish their own or clustered controlled dump facilities or sanitary landfills that will ensure the protection of the environment and the health of the people near the said disposal sites.
While the law gave local governments 10 years to comply with such mandate, there are still more than 6 percent of all local governments in the country that have yet to comply with the closure of their dump facilities primarily because of the absence of suitable lands in their areas of jurisdiction or in their neighboring localities aside from the prohibitive cost of putting up the said facility.
Domogan pointed out instead of threatening to file administrative and criminal charges against local officials of cities, municipalities and provinces that have not yet complied with the provisions of the solid waste disposal law or established their appropriate dump facilities, environment officials must take the lead in identifying the suitable lands for the feasible solid waste disposal methods of local governments as they are the ones who know the status of lands so that there will be a consolidated effort in solving such serious problems of local governments all over the country./Dexter A. See