The country, particularly Metro Manila, is facing a “garbage crisis,” according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Secretary Roy Cimatu said clean-up operations were not enough to fix the garbage woes in the National Capital Region, where nearly 13-million people live.
To help reduce the huge volume of the trash, agency officials backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s position to ban single-use plastics, he said.
“We are now in the middle of a garbage crisis,” he told the Stratbase Group forum in Taguig City.
“If we continue to act only for our independent interests, continue to spoil our water bodies and fail to responsibly manage our wastes, we will not be able to sustain our efforts on this campaign,” he said, referring to the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
The metro has a population of 12.8-million people and has exceeded its target of 58,112 cubic meters for the entire 2019.
It has generated over 66,000 cubic meters by the second quarter only of 2019.
For the first three months of 2019, the metro produced 34,574.77 cubic meters, while for the second quarter, there were 32,221.17 cubic meters.
“We and the following generations will all suffer the consequences if we do not change the way we behave as an organization and as individuals,” Cimatu told the forum.
He said there must be a change of attitude to be able to reduce the volume of trash.
Despite repeated warnings, the people would still continue to throw and dump garbage elsewhere, he said.
The DENR chief maintained that clean-up could no longer solve the problem of garbage, saying there must be cooperation from the people.
“Political will enable us to mobilize supporters, volunteers and ordinary Filipino citizens to rally to our cause,” he said.
In an ambush interview, Cimatu said his experience heading clean-ups in Manila Bay and other bodies of water connected to it suggested: “a culture and behavior problem because despite our warning to them not to throw anything, garbage is there again.”
Cimatu said they have to put up concrete fences to prevent people from dumping their waste in the rivers.
He added the DENR also planned to construct a common septic tank for informal settlers while they are arranging for their relocation.
The environment department has also started sending out people to deal with areas that garbage trucks are not able to service.
In his speech, Cimatu announced that as of Nov. 21 this year, 13,212 establishments around the Manila Bay have been inspected.
Of these, he said, 2,684 establishments have been issued with notices of violation of environmental regulations, while 1,910 more will be issued.
“Some 107 establishments have been issued with cease-and-desist orders,” he said.
There were also cases filed at the pollution adjudication board against two establishments, who will have to pay penalties if they are found guilty.
Asked if he would recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the banning of single-use plastic, which makes up a large part of the country’s waste stream, Cimatu said they are in the process of finalizing a department order.
“Within the next two weeks [we will finalize] a department order prescribing the use of plastic,” he said, adding it would be better if people could really avoid single-use plastics.
READ: Waste recovery facility closed
READ: 11k volunteers lead big cleanup at SM by the Bay