June 22, 2024

A decade after the tragic trash slide in Irisan, Baguio City, the Environment Management Bureau has recommended to the Supreme Court the lifting of the Writ of Kalikasan it issued in 2012 to compel the city government to close the then open dumpsite and institute measures to prevent another environmental tragedy.

The EMB submitted its recommendation to the Office of the Solicitor General in November 2021.

EMB-Cordillera Director Ma. Victoria Abrera said the city government of Baguio has fully complied with the consent decree that it committed to undertake after the SC issued a temporary environment protection order and a Writ of Kalikasan, which compelled the city to permanently close and rehabilitate the dumpsite.

The former dumpsite has been transformed into an eco-park. Abrera said the area is still in its early stages of development and is not yet open to the public but there is no longer a trace that the area was once the site of an open dumpsite.

Abrera said full realization of the Irisan eco-park development plan will take time but its full conversion merits the lifting of the Writ of Kalikasan.

The EMB also requested the SC that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and its attached bureaus to be relieved from submitting semestral reports about the city government’s compliance with the writ owing to the city’s full compliance with the consent decree.

The latest report of the EMB in November 2021 states that the decommissioned dumpsite has been permanently closed, waste segregation at source is being implemented, residual waste is collected at a transfer station then hauled within 24 hours to a landfill in Capas, Tarlac, biodegradable waste from the market are processed by environmental recycling machines, the decommissioned dumpsite is secured with a perimeter fence, a retaining wall, perimeter canal, runoff water canal have been constructed, and natural vegetation have already grown at the lower portion.

The report also stated that raw compost is still at the site and should be cleared. The EMB monitoring team has recommended for the operators of the recycling machine to spray deodorizers on the biodegradable waste and raw compost to maintain sanitation at the area.

The EMB also recommended for the concerned City Hall departments to monitor an eroded portion of the dumpsite and institute mitigation measures as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Abrera said there are 10 engineered sanitary landfills constructed in various provinces in the Cordillera. Nine of these landfills were developed by local governments and one by Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company.

These landfills are in Poblacion, Calanasan; Turod, Luna; and Swan, Pudtol in Apayao; Alno, La Trinidad and Mankayan in Benguet; Poblacion, Alfonso Lista and Payawan, Lamut in Ifugao; Dilag, Tabuk City and Bulbul, Rizal in Kalinga.

Landfills that are under construction are in Bucay, Abra; Conner and Malubibit Sur, Flora, Apayao; Liwo, Mayoyao, Ifugao; Balbalan, Kalinga; and Besao, Mountain Province.

There are also 28 sites in various provinces eyed as engineered sanitary landfills.

The EMB renders technical assistance to LGUs in the assessment and development of landfills to help them comply with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.  – Rimaliza A. Opiña