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Restless About Albur Landfill
« on: November 26, 2007, 02:23:23 PM »
By Kit Bagaipo
The Bohol Chronicle

Alburquerque residents opposed to the hosting of a cluster sanitary landfill are asking for the cessation of works now ongoing at the project site.

Meanwhile, Gov. Erico Aumentado reassured that he will not allow the project to proceed further if his request for experts and scientists in the field of sanitary landfills would not be able to conduct dialogues with Albur residents.

Hugpong Alburanon Nagpakabana (Hugalna) president Lourdes Pinlac told the Chronicle yesterday that construction works at the cluster sanitary landfill site in barangay Dangay started last Tuesday.

In fact, the project's contractor started clearing operations at the project site and were hiring workers for the construction.

Pinlac said Albur residents were "surprised and shocked" when they learned that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the project.

The ECC was issued October 10, 2007 by the DENR's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Region 7 chief Alan Arranguez.

The start of construction works is being challenged by Hugalna as there are still requirements and queries posed by the group on the project.

According to Pinlac, the group opposed to the project may have to seek a court order to stop the implementation of the project.

However, a court action will be "a last resort", Pinlac said, as they want to allow the governor and the project's proponents to hear their pleas and cancel the cluster sanitary landfill project.

The project is being funded by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) as a component of the Panglao Island Tourism Estate and the Panglao international airport project.

SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY

In a letter to PTA General Manager Robert Dean Barbers and several town mayors, Pinlac cited that the project's proposed site at barangay Dangay violates Article 6, Sec. 40 of RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

"The area is one of the sources of potable water of Albur residents," she said.

Another requirement of RA 9003 is social acceptability of the cluster sanitary landfill project, which according to Pinlac, is not achieved as "there was no transparency and honesty in the conduct of information dissemination inasmuch as the people were not asked whether they are amenable or not to the establishment and hosting of the cluster sanitary landfill."

Under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) of the Albur cluster sanitary landfill project (now named Metro Bohol Cluster Sanitary Landfill Project) the town will host garbage from some 11 towns who are signatories of the MOA.

However, there is no assurance that only the 11 towns will be dumping their wastes in Albur, according to Hugalna, as there have been no other similar projects being planned in other towns.

The DENR is mandated to close down all open dumpsites and waste disposal facilities that do not qualify under RA 9003. Hence, Hugalna fears that their town will become "the garbage capital of Bohol."

'DECEPTION'

According to Hugalna, they were "denied access" to documents relative to the project.

Since September 2006, written requests were made by Hugalna to former mayor Efren Tungol asking for the project proposal and feasibility study, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the town's comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) and the Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan (ISWMP).

However, it was only after the May 14, 2007 elections when mayor Jose Ugdoracion assumed office that they were able to get a copy of the ISWMP.

"After [getting a copy] of the ISWMP we found out that the said plan is filled with inconsistencies and the data gave a false picture of the municipality relative to the project," Hugalna claimed.

Based on the ISWMP, it was found that the local government unit, "offered to host the cluster sanitary landfill" through former mayor Tungol.

The document also cited that Albur, a fifth class municipality, generates some 4.2 tons of waste daily.

According to Hugalna, the figure is "bloated" to justify the offer of Albur to host the landfill.

The ISWMP and the project's feasibility study presented by the proponents included Tagbilaran City in the computation for IRR despite the fact that it is not a signatory of the project MOA since Tagbilaran City backed out from the cluster, Hugalna said.

"This is again another tactic to mislead and make the project appear to be viable.

The garbage from Tagbilaran City constitute about 85% of the total garbage among the cluster members. Without Tagbilaran City, it is very difficult to sustain the project," the group argued.

Hugalna also uncovered inconsistencies in the study made by the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) regarding the project.

When the town's Sangguniang Bayan (SB) requested for a copy of the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) of the project, they learned that there is no IEE for the project.

An IEE is a requirement for the issuance of an ECC.

HIGH MAINTENANCE

Hugalna said a study on sanitary landfills constructed here in the country shows that LGUs fail to sustain the project due to its high maintenance costs.

Other sanitary landfills became open dump sites because the government failed to sustain it, according to Hugalna.

The group cited the Bais and Clark Sanitary Landfill which is the model of the Albur landfill.

The Bais landfill devolved into an open dumpsite because the LGU of Bais had difficulty maintaining it after the German support group completed the project, Hugalna claimed.

If the project fails in Albur, however, the group said it will affect the source of potable water.

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