SC justice commends Pampanga’s green programs

Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbiterio Velasco, Jr. yesterday said the provincial government’s programs for the environment are fitting examples in the region that play a major role in the upkeep of the Manila Bay.
This was gleaned during the Area-Based Management Summit for Manila Bay Region 3 at the Royce Hotel in this Freeport on Wednesday, where Velasco was guest of honor and speaker.
Velasco also tagged Pampanga Gov. Lilia G. Pineda as “environmental champion” of Central Luzon, underscoring the Capitol’s initiative to provide garbage trucks to municipalities as reward for LGUs that comply with salient features of the Ecological Solid Waste Management law.
Velasco, chairman of the Manila Bay Advisory Council, also pointed out the materials recovery facility of the municipal government of Lubao as a good example for all LGUs.
During the summit, Velasco enjoined LGUs and stakeholders contributing to the overall welfare of the Pampanga river which drains its water to the Manila Bay to maintain a “synergy” of efforts to protect the historic bay.
Though Central Luzon is kilometers away from the actual Manila Bay, Velasco said, communities here have direct and indirect benefits from the bay that has one of the world’s best sunset views.
Manila Bay Advisory Council chairman and Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbiterio Velasco, Jr., along with Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, Pampanga Councilors League president Fritzie David-Dizon, Environmental Management Bureau Region 3 Director Lormelyn Claudio and Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Officer Art Punsalan, view the mini-exhibit during the Area-Based Management Summit for Manila Bay Region 3 at the Royce Hotel, Clark Freeport Zone. — Photos by Albert Lacanlale
The Supreme Court, in efforts to preserve the Manila Bay, has issued a mandamus that obligates areas along rivers that flow down the Manila Bay as stakeholders of its upkeep.
The same mandamus has a penal provision that seeks to charge local officials who are remissed in their duties to protect their waterways.
Based on a report from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Velasco said only 23 of the 94 LGUs in the region have approved solid waste management plan; 45 or less than 50 percent are segregating their garbage at source; only 39 have effective materials recovery facilities; and, only 58 comply with proper residual waster disposal.
However, Velasco came to the LGUs’ defense as he urged congressmen to file amendments to the existing solid waste management law and give LGUs more time to fully comply with all the requirements of law.
“It is difficult for LGUs to comply will all the requirements of the law given their budgetary constraints,” he said.
He said the national government should establish landfills, a facility that the law on garbage allows  where residual wastes are dumped and processed for various usage.
Velasco said “Gov. Pineda is correct in saying that whatever pollution is thrown in rivers upstream like Nueva Ecija could lead to the Pampanga river and eventually to the Manila Bay.”
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