waste management

Puerto Princesa barangay mobilizes community for weekly coastal cleanups

Gerich Reyes

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Puerto Princesa barangay mobilizes community for weekly coastal cleanups

ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. Residents of Barangay Mandaragat in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, participate in a coastal cleanup activity.

Gerich Reyes

Coastal residents, local officials and workers, as well as civic organizations join weekly coastal cleanup activities in Barangay Mandaragat

PALAWAN, Philippines – Since January 2024, an urban coastal barangay in Puerto Princesa has been conducting weekly coastal cleanup activities in an effort to rid its coastlines of plastic pollution.

Ginawa na naming weekly para makita natin ‘yung impact ng ginagawang coastal cleanup. We have mobilized the coastal residents themselves at maganda ang ipinakita nilang active participation,” Lha Gallo, newly elected chair of Barangay Mandaragat said.

(We made it weekly so we could see the impact of the coastal cleanup operations. We have mobilized the coastal residents themselves, and they’ve shown good active participation.)

Their latest coastal cleanup activity was on Saturday, March 23. A few hundreds of its households are located in coastal zones that are within the coastal easement, an area supposedly for public recreation and a salvaged zone pursuant to the Philippine Water Code.

Person, Adult, Male
ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. Residents of Barangay Mandaragat in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, participate in a coastal cleanup activity. Photo by Gerich Reyes

Since these families living in coastal households are considered informal settlers, the city government intends to relocate them to a housing project in Irawan, 15 kilometers from their present location.

Among those who actively participated in the activity aside from coastal residents were barangay officials both elected and appointed, tanod (village guards), purok officials, beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), barangay workers, and civic organizations based in their barangay.

In Purok Talisay alone, they collected 51 sacks of solid waste from underneath the coastline’s houses. This is equivalent to more than 400 kilos.

Since coastal clean-up activities are not funded by their barangays’ annual budget, officials relied mainly on donors like Kagawad (Councilor) Marife Diaz-Bumanlag who sponsored arroz caldo (porridge). Barangay Mandaragat has an annual budget of P23 million.

Mary Jane Magbanua is among the 4Ps beneficiaries who actively participated in the activity. She said that she is proud to be part of their coastlines’ eco warriors.

Former barangay chairman and now Kagawad Gerry Abad said that they will not stop cleaning their coastlines.

Kahit linggo-linggo na ginagawa ang coastal cleanup ang mga basura ay nandiyan pa rin. Hindi pa rin nauubos ang solid waste at mga plastic sa dagat,” Abad said.

(Even if we do the coastal cleanup every week, there will always be garbage there. Solid waste doesn’t seem to run out, and neither does plastic in the ocean.)

Another initiative that they introduced is the Palit-Basura (Waste Exchange) program which started before the pandemic or sometime in 2018 during the term of Abad. This time, Gallo found the program important in getting rid of solid waste, and so she vowed to sustain it.

Championing solid waste management

Mandaragat is among the urban barangays in this city that have championed solid waste management.

Community Development Officer IV Mary Ann Joylle Madriñan of the city’s Environment and Natural Resources Office said that Mandaragat has been implementing various projects on solid waste management for more than 10 years.

Mandaragat also established 13 gulayan (vegetable gardens) so that biodegradable solid wastes will be directly transported by a barangay worker they call bio-man to these gulayan. This way, the solid waste from their barangay that will be collected by the City Solid Waste Management trucks are only residual wastes, like soiled plastic, thin films, sando bags and other single-use plastic packaging like sachets.

But what is interesting about this barangay is that they do not have wastebins on its streets and alleys. Rather they teach local residents to bring out their solid waste only when there’s waste collection.

Slum, Person, Nature
COMMUNITY. Community members in Barangay Mandaragat join in solid waste management efforts. Photo by Gerich Reyes

In the entire Puerto Princesa, 180 to 200 tons of mixed wastes reach its sanitary landfill daily, a volume that city authorities fear might reached the facility’s maximum capacity. But with the impact Mandaragat is trying to achieve, they are hopeful that it will yield tangible results for the people and the environment. – Rappler.com

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