Itogon landfill hinges on residents’ approval

Sunday, July 22, 2012

AMPUCAO, Itogon, Benguet -– A lawmaker assured residents he will not allow an engineered sanitary landfill (ESL) to be installed once the requirements of the law are not met by proponents.

Representative Ronald Cosalan said this during the public hearing of the ESL in the barangay gymnasium held last Friday.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Director Clarence Baguilat, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples–Cordillera representative, and Governor Nestor Fongwan’s representative Apolinario Bagano were also present during the consultation with residents and barangay officials.

The ESL is planned to be established in sitio Tapak.

Cosalan said there are numerous requirements provided by several laws that the proponent must comply with. One of these is the Local Government Code.

He said that Mayors Oscar Camantiles and Mauricio Domogan, and Governor Nestor Fongwan signed a memorandum of understanding earlier that showed their interest to have an ESL.

However, Cosalan said this does not mean the ESL is allowed to be implemented without conducting the proper procedures.

He said the proponent must meet the following: memorandum of agreement; endorsement from the barangay and town’s councils; Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC); and the conduct of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), among others.

Meanwhile, Baguilat said the proponent must have to comply with the five laws, namely the Solid Waste Management Act; Local Government Code; Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, which mandates an FPIC; National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Law; and the ECC.

He added that if anyone of these is not met by the proponent, the ESL will not be allowed.

Baguilat also said there will be studies conducted in order to evaluate the effects of the ESL. The result of the study will be the basis of the proponent to identify mitigating measures in order to minimize the ESL effects.

Baguilat added there will also be a reviewing committee that will supervise every angle of the proposal before its verdict.

He said this is especially so because the proposed site in Tapak is within the Lower Agno Watershed Reservation.

Baguilat, Cosalan, and the representative from the NCIP explained these procedures the ESL proponent must meet before they will allow the project.

They explained the residents have the final say on the project based on the FPIC.

In an earlier statement of the residents of Ampucao, they opposed the ESL because of its various effects to the environment, health, agriculture and marine lives.

Meanwhile, in Baguio, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he respects the non endorsement of the ECC by the local chief executive of Itogon.

The mayor confirmed Itogon Mayor Oscar Camantiles did not endorse the issuance of the ECC as the latter was not furnished a copy of the feasibility study by proponents of the engineered sanitary landfill in Ampucao.

The Ampucao ESL facility was eyed as the final destination of solid waste of the Baguio, Itogon, La Trinidad, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay to be funded by a grant from the Korean government.

Only the city mayor and Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan signed the endorsement that will be submitted to the Environmental Management Bureau.

Domogan said he respects Camantiles’s decision even as it will not help obtain the ECC as the ESL project remains subject to scrutiny and technical evaluation by experts.

He said all the plans and programs for the ESL must adhere to existing laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and other environmental laws.

The mayor said the endorsement should have been attached to the earlier endorsement to conduct a feasibility study on the Ampucao ESL signed by him, Fongwan, Camantiles and Ampucao village chief Edie Amuasen.

He said the slow process of acquiring an ECC should be the main concern as requirements of Camantiles could be complied with as the project moves forward. (Rubyloida Bitog/JM Agreda)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 23, 2012.


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Taraki Lang

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