July 16, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

With the ongoing talks on the status of the Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. engineered sanitary landfill in Capas, Tarlac, nearby private landfill companies are offering their services as alternative sites to local government units in the Cordillera.

In the recent Environmental Summit by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera, two private firms namely Floridablanca Enviro Corporation (FEC) and Eco Protect Management Corp. (EPMC) presented their company’s services and facilities to the LGUs.  

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority announced this month the closure of the MCWMC’s 100-hectare modern sanitary landfill inside the New Clark City in Capas town due to the expiration of the firm’s 25-year contract with its subsidiary, the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) on Oct. 9.

La Trinidad Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer Arthur Pedro said the LGU is looking for other solutions on where to haul out its garbage in case MCWMC closes.

Pedro said while the facilities of the two alternative firms are state-of-the-art, the location of these ESLs are farther than Capas.

La Trinidad hauls out at least three times a week, with an average of 500 tons of wastes per month, from its sanitary landfill in Alno to the Capas landfill. 

FEC in Floridablanca, Pampanga is located 59 kilometers away from the MCWMC in Capas while it takes 42 km. to get to EPMC from Capas.  

During the forum, Pedro asked the FEC if it could set up a transfer station in La Union or Pangasinan, to benefit LGUs that would avail of their service.

FEC consultant Alex Laguisma said the suggested transfer station could be possible. However, in establishing a transfer station, it would need an environmental compliance certificate and other related permits.

He acknowledged the transfer station would ease the transport cost of LGUs, as he assured the company is willing to conduct further talks with the LGUs to cater to their needs. 

Earlier, Sun.Star Pampanga reported the MCWMC has clarified its lease agreement for the property will not expire in October 2024.

Executive Vice-President Vicky Gaetos of MCWMC said their contract with CDC included a lease contract that grants MCWMC the right to use the 100-hectare property as an integrated waste management center. It also has a service contract pertaining to MCWMC’s exclusive right to provide waste management services to locators inside the Clark Special Economic Zone.

Only the exclusivity clause is set to expire in October 2024, as she also cited Republic Act 7652 or the Investors Lease Act and Executive Order 429 allowing foreign investors long-term lease period not exceeding 50 years, that is renewable once for another 25 years.

The company, which accommodates garbage wastes from 122 LGUs in the Central and Northern Luzon, filed a case for reformation of instrument before the Angeles Regional Trial Court on June 11. 

“We hope that we can come to an amicable solution to this problem, which will affect so many millions of residents in Region 3 and Pangasinan, even up to Baguio. We leave it to our legal team, and ultimately to the courts to decide what happens next. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work and serve our customers and communities,” Gaetos said.

Aside from La Trinidad, the towns of Tuba, Itogon, Sablan, Mankayan, and Atok in Benguet and Baguio City and some LGUs in Abra are hauling their garbage to the MCWMC landfill due to the lack of engineered sanitary landfills in the Cordillera.