THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it is encouraging local government units (LGU) to pass ordinances penalizing improper trash disposal over and above the penalties laid out in Republic Act (RA) No. 9003.

“We want to encourage the local government to come up with an ordinance which is… on top of the P1,000 (of RA 9003)… so that once and for all ang ating mga mamamayan (our citizens) will take the garbage issue seriously,” Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Unit Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said in a phone interview.

Also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the law sets out guidelines for solid waste management and penalizes litterers and garbage dumpers with fines of between P300 and P1,000. An alternative penalty is community service of between 1-15 days.

Mr. Antiporda said that the department is also pushing legislators to amend the 20-year-old law since it has not had a major impact.

“For 20 years hindi tayo naging successful so we need to amend it para lalo pang palakasin yung ating batas (we were not successful so we need to amend it to strengthen enforcement),” he said in a news conference on Wednesday in Quezon City.

Mr. Antiporda said that he is hopeful that LGU ordinances and Congressional amendments will be done within 2020. If properly implemented, he said that only 20-30% of the country’s waste will end up in landfills.

“This is a good suggestion. I know this will become successful if we will make drastic moves on how we can change the culture of the people when it comes to taking care of their waste,” he said.

The DENR plans to propose an additional P7.2-billion budget in 2021 to build sanitary landfills for each of the 248 congressional districts. Mr. Antiporda said that if the procurement process is fast-tracked, the implementation could be completed in a year.

If this plan succeeds, he said the goal for the succeeding year is two landfills for every district. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang