San Andres, Bato SBs Reject Inclusion in Virac Landfill Plan - CT

The municipalities of San Andres and Bato have rejected their inclusion in Virac’s plan considering the two towns as among the source of revenues of the proposed P83-million sanitary landfill project which would be funded through a controversial P75 million loan.

Through Resolution No. 78-2009, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Andres informed the local government of Virac that San Andres is not interested in dumping its garbage in the proposed landfill. The identification of San Andres as a possible landfill client is a welcome development, the municipal council said.

"However, after perusal of the terms in the proposed dumping fees and charges, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Andres found the amount to be hugely prohibitive an d therefore, the financial capacity of the municipality would be inadequate to pay off the corresponding charges," the measure said. The council, led by Vice Mayor Alan del Valle, said the town has decided instead to establish its own landfill.

On the other hand, Bato Mayor Eulogio Rodriguez issued a certification that the town is now utilizing its own municipal sanitary landfill and, as such, does not intend to utilize the proposed landfill in Virac.

His stand was backed up by the Sangguniang Bayan which rejected the inclusion of Bato in the feasibility study of the Virac LGU relative to the conversion of its existing dumpsite into a sanitary landfill.

The council said there was no prior consultations made with Bato LGU and its stakeholders in the preparation of the Virac study, which might affect Bato’s future solid waste management plans and programs.

It added that, after former Mayor Lorenzo Templonuevo established a materials recovery facility in Batalay, the LGU acquired a private lot in Buenavista, with its soil geological analysis conforming with the requirements of a dumpsite, and passed Municipal Ordinance No. 2003-001 in support of the Solid Waste Management Program.

The two towns’ action effectively removes a huge chunk of the expected revenues from tipping fees at the proposed dumpsite. The study conducted by Woodfields Consultant, Inc. considers San Andres to pay P540,000.00, and Bato another P360,000.00, on a monthly basis for the right to dispose of their solid waste in the Virac landfill.

Meanwhile, prominent local officials and non-government organizations submitted a manifesto and a statement of concern over the reported plan of the Virac municipal government to secure a P75 million loan for the establishment of the landfill.

Officials led by Governor Joseph C. Cua and Bishop Manolo A. delos Santos signed a manifesto strongly urging Mayor Santos V. Zafe and the members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Virac to defer the passage of the proposed resolution and to further explore other options and alternatives that are more advantageous to the municipal government and the people of Virac.

The NGO members of the church-backed Partnership for the Restoration of Integrity, Dedication and Excellence in Governance (PRIDE) and the Virac Civil Society Organization also unanimously expressed opposition to the proposal, as the project cost is beyond the financial capability of the municipality to amortize without sacrificing other social services.

"We suspect that the resolution is tainted with selfish political design since it is being done in haste and under the shadow of the coming 2010 elections," it said. "We cannot but think that such amount could be used for other purposes contrary to what we believe as good governance."

They appealed to local leaders to convene the Municipal Solid Waste Management Board to subject the feasibility study to further discussion, make sure the proposal is realizable, explore other viable possibilities, and encourage barangays to practice waste segregation to there would be no need of an unconscionably expensive landfill project.

Source: Catanduanes Tribune - 21 October 2009

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