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July 18, 2000

Zero-waste plan urged to get rid of dumps

CALASIAO, Pangasinan--Since everyone has realized that garbage can kill, a zero waste advocate called on the government to fast-track its waste management program to avert tragedies similar to what happened in Payatas.

Ruben Posadas of the Recycling Movement of the Philippines said while the government has supported the zero waste movement through programs such as the implementation of the color coding of collected garbage, the support was "half-hearted."

"We hope the Payatas tragedy finally opens the eyes of both government officials and the people--that both must realize their responsibilities to lessen their wastes and to manage these wastes so that there will be no need for dumpsites," he said.

Posadas said although the zero waste concept was developed in the Philippines 30 years ago, it was never put into practice. This was the reason there were several dumpsites in the country, he added.

"It is only now that the concept is spreading because we are starting to see the need (for it)," he said. He said if not mixed, garbage is not really a waste but a resource.

He said biodegradable materials can be made into food, feeds, or fertilizers while non-biodegradable ones can be made into fine craft or serve as fillers.

Posadas talked about waste management among residents in Barangay Bued here during the inauguration of the composting system of the village.

The composting system, which was donated by Mayor Celso de Vera, was established to solve the garbage problem in the village.

Village officials and residents are now managing it.

De Vera said he hoped that Barangay Bued would become a model for other villages here that are also beset with waste disposal problems.

Barangay Bued chief Carlito Dion said the garbage management program was launched in his village three years ago when local officials and residents started to rehabilitate the Parongking River, said to be among the polluted rivers in Pangasinan.

The river, which traverses the village, serves as a sewerage system and dumping ground of factories and residents.

"We have to train residents on how to manage their wastes so they will not throw anything into the river anymore," Dion said.

In Mabalacat, the immediate response of officials to the possibility that the Payatas tragedy could repeat itself was to move squatter colonies away from dumps.

Mabalacat Mayor Marino Morales said the municipal government is negotiating to buy a property for the construction of low-cost houses for the Mangalit scavengers and residents near the riverbanks in five barangays.

"Mabalacat officials are saddened by the Payatas tragedy and (we) would do all we could to avert the same kind of fate, which may befall our constituents," he said.

Floods He also called attention to the massive flooding in Barangay Lakandula that, he said, was caused by floodwater coming from the Clark Special Economic Zone.

In Cabanatuan City, Mayor Jay Vergara urged at least 40 families living in the city's dumpsite in Barangay Valle Cruz to take precautions and, if possible, leave the area to avoid a tragedy similar to the Payatas garbage slide last week.

Vergara said he had instructed the city engineer to help the families living in Valle Cruz to relocate to safer places in the city.

The rainy season, he said, may trigger a Payatas-like avalanche in the area. Yolanda Fuertes, PDI Northern Luzon Bureau and Tonette Orejas and Anselmo Roque, PDI Central Luzon Desk


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