waste management

Zamboanga Sibugay town struggles with trash as EMB shuts down dumpsite

Antonio Manaytay
Zamboanga Sibugay town struggles with trash as EMB shuts down dumpsite

CLOSED DOWN. The EMB closes down this dumpsite in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, for being non-compliant with the standards set under the law.

Antonio Manaytay/Rappler

Barangay officials in Ipil town have reportedly committed to make their own village compost pits for household waste, following the closure of the municipal dumpsite

Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay is struggling with tons of garbage a month after the environment department shut down its dumpsite after the local government failed to comply with the ecological solid waste management law.

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the operation of the municipal dumpsite was illegal.

Since September 23, garbage has been piling up on the streets of Ipil, leaving barangay officials to deal with the trash on their own.

The capital of Zamboanga Sibugay province, Ipil churns out an average of 12 to 15 tons of garbage daily – 60% biodegradable, 25% recyclable, and 5% residual wastes such as diapers, busted bulbs, and chemical containers, among others.

Engineer Carlo Deo Bue, Zamboanga Sibugay EMB head, said the local government had been warned about the shutdown, and the order to close down its 9.5-hectare open dumpsite should force it to act.

Bue said the open dumpsite, where garbage was being added daily to the already mountains of biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes that piled up through the years, was in clear violation of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Prioritize environment-friendly waste disposal

EMB said the order should pressure local officials into prioritizing a rehabilitation plan and put in place an environment-friendly waste disposal management system.

The EMB had already ordered the closure of four other dumpsites in Zamboanga Sibugay earlier in 2020, in the towns of Kabasalan, Imelda, Mabuhay, and Talusan.

Felix Badon, Ipil’s municipal environment officer, said the local government has continued to collect only residual and biodegradable wastes from the public market and several business establishments.

“We no longer collect waste from houses because it is already the responsibility of the barangays. Most of these wastes are unsegregated,” he said.

The residual wastes the town government collects, Badon said, are then placed in a containment area.

Barangay efforts

Badon said barangay officials have committed to make their own village compost pits.

But out of Ipil’s 28 barangays, only two have so far provided compost pits as of this posting.

Teresita Dy Olegario, Barangay Sanito chairperson, said they were still working to provide a compost pit, and were collecting residual wastes from the households and commercial establishments.

Another barangay chairperson, Jocelyn Ferrer of Barangay Poblacion, said they bought a garbage truck and were giving residents training on composting.

Residents were expected to provide their own backyard compost pits for their biodegradable wastes, but villagers said they doubt that it would work.

Entrepreneur Catherine Joy Jumawan, a resident of Barangay Poblacion, said backyard compost pits can only do so much given the volume of garbage households produce.

“We are already doing composting but it isn’t sustainable,” she said.

Garbage disposal is a growing concern in other areas in the country, as well, as sanitary landfills are getting filled up ahead of schedule, as in the case of General Mariano Alvarez town in Cavite. – Rappler.com

Antonio Manaytay is a Mindanao-based journalist and anawardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.