Clark Freeport, Pampanga—The City of San Fernando, Pampanga was awarded as one of the leading cities of the Asia Pacific for its 93 percent smart implementation of the Zero Waste Management that contributes in the reduction of the greenhouse emission to 1.5 C to protect global warming.
The International Panel on Climate Change recommended ten steps to local cities and communities to reduce greenhouse emissions and reduce, reuse and recycle waste materials.
The award was received by Mayor Edwin D. Santiago together with other category awardees from different countries of the region during the International Zero Waste Conference held at the Light Hotel Penang, Malaysia last Oct. 14.
The award was given after three years of on-the-spot monitoring by zero waste groups in the city.
The first-ever international award given to the city of San Fernando, which is also known as the giant lantern capital of the Philippines, was given by the Zero Waste International Alliance.
The ZWIA aims for the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharge to land, water or air that threatens the environment or human health.
During a media forum here, Santiago said the city was cited for its smart implementation of zero waste segregation management as provided for under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003, through the help of the city’s residents and 35 village leaders.
“The city zero waste management practice will now serve as a model not only for Third World countries in the region but also globally, because while rich countries burn their waste, we segregate ours,” Santiago said.
Also present during the forum was former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin P. Defensor Jr., vice chair of the Clark Development Corp., who said the master plan of Freeport also called for greening and the prevention traffic congestion inside the former US Air Force base.
This is through the construction of railways like on going 147 kilometers Manila Clark Railways worth P777.55 million and other projects, Defensor said.
The Phase 1 from Manila-Malolos, Bulacan will cut the travel time from 90 to 35 minutes. Phase 2 is from Malolos City, Bulacan to the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac covering 53 kilometers and is now on bidding by the Department of Transportation.
The whole project is financed by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and will cut the travel time from Makati to Clark International Airport from 120 minutes to 55 minutes, Defensor added.
Defensor said they want to make Clark the jewel of Central Luzon, a smart city free from congestion and traffic for the 21st century.
Instead of more cars, modern trains and monorail systems similar to those in modern cities like Tokyo and New York are being considered in the New Clark City of the country, the CDC vice chair said.
Santiago said that 93% compliance of the city to RA 9003 was the result of serious policy implementation of the information, education and information in barangays level.
It includes the passing of Plastic-Free Ordinance No. 2014-008 of 2014, which prohibits the use of plastic and Styrofoam packaging for food products with corresponding penalty.
Waste segregation efforts are led by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENTRO) and the City Waste Management Board in cooperation with non-government organizations and others like the Mother Earth Foundation and GAIA.
The city employs about 160 regular waste workers as collectors, drivers, and segregators under the San Fernando Waste Workers Association, whose president sits on the policymaking board.
Due to smart implementation of the zero waste management policies since 2018, the city was able to save money from trash hauling fees from P70 million to P34.6 million annually, the mayor said.
The residual waste, business establishments, private schools, and private healthcare facilities are required to contract private haulers to collect segregated waste and bring it to final disposal facilities followed by regular on spot check by employers, Santiago said.
Regina Rodriguez, Officer in charge of CENRO, said that as of June, the city is 85 percent compliant with the total ban on plastic bags.
San Fernando generates an estimated 6,240 tons of waste a month but has diverted 4,290 tons and disposed 1,950 tons at the Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation Sanitary Landfill inside the Freeport.
As the business hub of Central Luzon, the city hosts 80,000 business establishments, 120 academic institutions, 70 health facilities, hospitals, complete government offices and their subsidiaries, compacted into 6,774 hectares of land with local population 306,659 people in 35 villages.
“Another problem that needs to be solved is the congestion that is causing traffic because the road scape is exceeding the vehicles specially during office hours. That is changing the landscape of the city,” Santiago added.