In the Philippines, it is unlawful to litter in public places, burn solid waste in the open, and throw biodegradable and recyclable waste together. But despite grand intentions and a legislation called Ecological Solid Waste Management Act 2000 (ESWMA), the country’s gross domestic products remain one of the most problematic yet ignored local government problems in the country.
Various catastrophes related to solid waste disposal have rocked the country since the Payatas tragedy in July 10, 2000 when a mounting garbage buried to death some 300 victims up to the most recent tragedy in summer capital Baguio’s Irisan dumpsite when the retaining wall collapsed and killed 5 victims during tropical cyclone Nanmadol in August 2011.
The efforts of the National Government to address waste disposal and environmental concerns were embodied in the ESWMA also called Republic Act 9003 putting to law the need to segregate waste between biodegradable and non-biodegradable/recyclable, mandating local government units (LGUs) to implement the provisions of the law including the development of dumpsites into ecologically acceptable controlled sanitary landfills that minimize leaching of hazardous chemical from garbage into the groundwater or materials recovery facilities where wastes are turned into composts and organic fertilizers, or sold to recycling facilities.
A survey of 45 towns and 5 cities in two provinces undertaken by Bituen Arts, Culture, Events and Communications indicated that only 2 towns and one city currently employ legally acceptable materials recovery facility.
A global effort that hopes to battle the growing environmental concerns, solid waste management aims to reduce garbage for up to 70% to make the Earth sustainable, thus encouraging every individual to reuse, recycle, and minimize waste.
The law, however, have yet to be felt to take into effect. So far, cases filed or violators apprehended for its 66 sections and 16 prohibitions since passed into law by the former president Gloria Arroyo in 2001 have remained under the radar or the Department of Natural Resources just kept looking into these cases. Unlawful acts that are often publicly violated and ignored by law enforcers include littering and dumping in public places, canals, and roads, violation of sanitation operation, open burning of solid waste, collection of non-segregated or unsorted wastes, open dumping by majority of LGUs, dumping near water bodies, among several others.
Many local law enforcers, when asked about RA 9003, said they have heard about it but does not specifically know its contents.