THE House committee on Metro Manila Development questioned the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)’s spending on garbage collection in 2018, raising the possibility that the MMDA overpaid or is not going about it efficiently.

Reynaldo Estipona, acting director of MMDA’s Solid Waste Management Office, said that the agency spent over P1.77 billion on solid waste collection last year.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Winston Castelo, said: “Hindi kaya nagkakakroon ng overpayment? (Is it possible the MMDA overpaid?) Because that money is more than sufficient to (collect) that volume of trash.”

Mr. Castelo did not provide an estimate for what he thought is a proper level of spending for garbage. Mr. Estipona said that MMDA collected 56,032.37 cubic meters of trash per day in Metro Manila last year.

Non-government organization Mother Earth Foundation proposed during the hearing that waste collection management be done at the barangay level, which it claims has the effect of reducing garbage levels as well as costs.

“It should be decentralized. In our model, we do it per barangay. (It results in) lower waste generation, there are fewer people involved, the implementation is faster and efficient,” said Sonia Zamora, chairperson of Mother Earth Foundation.

She noted that the City of San Fernando, Pampanga has been bringing down its garbage collection costs using this approach.

“In our model, San Fernando City, where it has been ongoing for six years… only 19% of trash goes to the landfill,” she said. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras