MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City government cannot yet collect from residents the annual garbage fees that the local goverment approved last December.
On Wednesday, February 5, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the implementation of Ordinance No. 2235, which exacts a garbage fee of P100 to P500 a year from households.
The High Court was acting on a complaint filed by Kamias Road resident Jose Ferrer Jr. Named respondents in the complaint are Mayor Herbert Bautista, the Quezon City council, the city treasurer, and the city assessor.
The fees vary, depending on the land area occupied by the house:
- P100 – 200 square meters or less
- P200 – 201 sq meters to 500 sq meters
- P300 – 501 sq meters to 1,000 sq meters
- P400 – 1,001 sq meters to 1,500 sq meters
- P500 – 1,501 sq meters or more
For condominium units and socialized housing units in the city, the fees are as follows:
- P25 – 40 sq meters or less
- P50 – 41 sq meters to 60 sq meters
- P75 – 61 sq meters to 100 sq meters
- P100 – 101 sq meters to 150 sq meters
- P200 – 151 sq meters or more
According to the ordinance authored by Councilor Victor Ferrer Jr (District I), the garbage fee should be paid at the same time residents pay the annual real propery tax, “but not later than the first quarter installment.”
A household owner who refuses to pay the garbage fee is penalized. They have to pay an additional 25% of the garbage fee due plus an interest of 2% per month.
Fees for garbage programs
The garbage fees are supposed to boost QC’s garbage collection program. The proceeds “shall be deposited solely and exclusively in an earmarked special account under the general fund to be utilized solely for garbage collections,” reads the ordinance.
This fund will then be the source of “rewards” for barangays, accredited homeowner associations, and condominium associations that have undertaken projects that promote reuse, recycling, and reduction of garbage.
Approved by Bautista on Dec 26, 2013, the ordinance already took effect last January 1, said QC Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department (EPWMD) chief Manny Rios.
The point of the ordinance is to make residents more accountable for their garbage.
“Before, residents didn’t have responsibility over their trash. They don’t pay any fee. So it was decided that it’s time to give them some sense of responsibility to also pay for the garbage they throw,” he told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino.
Before the ordinance, only business establishments had to pay a garbage fee. Rios said the new fee is very small. The owner of a 200-square-meter home would only have to pay P100 a year or around 27 centavos a day.
But if the fee is that small anyway, how will homeowners feel more accountable?
“Parang pinaramdam lang na dapat magkaroon sila ng share sa basura (It’s just to make them feel they should have a share in garbage collection),” he said.
Biggest spender on sanitary services
If all QC residents pay the garbage fee, the city government expects to collect around P50 million a year for the “special fund.”
The amount is small compared to the more than P775 million the city government spends every year for environmental services. This includes not only garbage collection but payment of streetsweepers and environmental campaigns to promote waste segregation, recycle, reuse, and reduction of garbage, said Rios.
Among cities in Metro Manila, Quezon City spends the most on “environment and sanitary services,” according to the Commission on Audit.
In 2012, the city spent P903.7 million in taxpayers’ money on maintaining the environment – or 21.6% of the total P4.182 billion spent by the entire Metro Manila.
Rios says this is because Quezon City is the largest city in Metro Manila, catering to a population of more than 3 million. – Rappler.com