Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu plans to put up a compliant sanitary landfill (SLF) in the province of Cavite to help manage its garbage problem that is affecting the ongoing Manila Bay rehabilitation project.

Cimatu, who is chair of the Manila Bay Task Force, and some DENR officials met with Cavite Governor Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla and the mayors of Cavite province to discuss ways to encourage their cooperation in addressing solid waste and water quality management issues in the six major river systems in the province.

During the event, DENR Calabarzon Regional Executive Director Nilo B. Tamoria identified Cavite’s six major rivers as Imus River, Zapote River, Rio Grande-Ylang-Ylang River, Cañas River, Labac River and Maragondon River, all of which empty out into the historic bay.

“We cannot complete the rehabilitation of Manila Bay if we will not solve the garbage problem in the province. There is a very big connection between that,” Cimatu told Cavite officials during their meeting held at Oasis Hotel in Imus City on June 24.

“The only way for us to solve the problem of Manila Bay is to solve the garbage problem and water quality of the rivers in Cavite,” he added.

Present at the meeting were mayors from the cities of Cavite, Gen. Trias and Trece Martires, and the municipalities of Amadeo, GMA, Indang, Mendez, Naic, Silang, and Tanza.

Remulla said solid waste management is the number one problem of Cavite when it comes to the environment, as he noted that an estimated 50 percent of solid waste in the province goes to its rivers accounting to approximately 2,000 tons a day, of which 90 percent goes to Manila Bay.

The provincial chief executive disclosed that 21 of the 23 cities and municipalities of the province “do not have the capacity to put up their own solid waste facility because of the limitations of land” of which he appealed for the DENR to help in setting up an SLF.

Cimatu, explained that due to the recent rainfalls, trash from various waterways including those from the rivers of Cavite drift to Manila Bay, countering the latest significant improvements in the Baywalk area in terms of coliform level and solid waste collection.

He added that the evident increase in garbage in the rivers may be attributed to the closure of all dumpsites in the province in compliance with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“I’d like to appeal to the Mayors of Cavite to please help us,” Cimatu said, as he pointed out that under the law, local government units (LGUs) are primarily responsible for waste segregation and disposal.

Meanwhile, DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGUs Concerns and Cavite Cluster Task Force head Benny D. Antiporda suggested some strategies that the LGUs may implement to address the garbage problem in their respective localities.

These include having “environmental marshals” in the barangays, influencing behavioral change, enforcement of policies and city ordinances, and checking the environmental compliance of various industries and establishments in their respective areas of responsibility.

Antiporda said the DENR is committed to help the LGUs to complement their ongoing cleanup efforts like installing trash traps, employing additional river rangers, and managing the wastes generated by informal settlers.

Also present during the meeting were City Environment and Natural Resources Officers; Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officers; and representatives from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Manila Bay Coordinating Office, and regional offices of the DENR, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau, and Department of the Interior and Local Government. ###