ILOILO CITY–The National Environmental Action Team (NEAT) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) will conduct an environmental compliance audit on 180 barangay (villages) here to find out if they comply with Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
The audit would be done because “barangay captains have not taken the law seriously,” said lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr., IBP-NEAT chair, in a letter to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.
“To insulate the team from any political/partisan influence, it will be strictly composed of professionals. While we may ask one of your officials to join us as an observer and guide, he/she will not participate in any deliberation,” Oposa told Treñas in a letter dated July 13.
Treñas said he welcomed the initiative of the IBP-NEAT for an environmental audit.
According to the Office of Public Services (OPS), the village officials failed to rally their constituents to observe proper waste disposal. Only about 72 of the 180 villages in the city have materials recovery facilities (MRF).
OPS chief Raul Gallo said only 40 percent of the city’s villages practiced proper waste disposal through MRFs. The OPS is in charge of garbage regulation in this city. It has introduced MRF initiatives to the villages for the segregation of wastes from biodegradable, non-biodegradable, and recyclable waste materials.
Oposa said that “We Heal,” a non-government organization that partnered with IBP-NEAT, conducted various seminars and trainings in communities to educate villagers about their role in proper waste disposal.
“Commercial establishments, educational institutions, hospitals and hotels segregate their waste materials. We have been assisting the villages for segregation for several years now … but only a few have complied,” Gallo stressed.
Oposa said the audit would be done by the IBP-NEAT, the Legal Team of the Law of Nature Foundation and the Visayan Sea Squadron and the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, with representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the academe.
“In the event we find gross and inexcusable negligence on the part of the barangay officials, we will endorse the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate action,” Oposa said.
In addition, the lawyer said, “we will have their names and pictures published in the local and national media to make them examples of non-performing assets of the Philippine Government. It is time to hold accountable the people whose salaries we pay.”