BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines – Tourists may soon be asked to pay an additional P10 or P20 towards their hotel costs to manage the waste they generate while visiting the city, officials said on Monday.
Tuition fees charged by universities can also include 120 pesos in the annual garbage fee so that every student, many of whom live out of town, can help clean up the summer capital.
Households should pay a minimum fee for garbage that would be proportional to their week’s waste volume under a “pay-as-you-go” system, recommended by Gladys Navarro, professor of economics at Saint-Laurent University. Louis.
Navarro was commissioned by Mayor Benjamin Magalong to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of various waste management solutions considered by experts.
These options, which were outlined by Navarro during Monday’s executive-legislative meeting, were being considered by the Baguio government, which spends up to 170 million pesos each year to haul garbage to a landfill in Tarlac province.
Magalong asked the city council to prioritize the development of a waste management plan using inputs from the study, which could be implemented after the May elections, regardless of the winner.
“The 2019 Baguio Urban Carrying Capacity Study indicates that our solid waste management threshold was exceeded in 1994. We have not addressed this issue for 28 years. Shame on us,” Magalong said.
The list of solutions includes the full privatization of Baguio’s waste management, which may require an investment of 3 billion pesos from a contractor.
But while a study survey concluded that the majority of Baguio respondents were willing to pay a notional fee of P10 for 10 kilos of waste each week, it also learned that many other respondents were opposed to a corporate waste manager.
Respondents raised concerns about a resulting monopoly that would impose high garbage fees on residents, Navarro said.
Some of these options have been tried in smaller towns such as the town of Bontoc in Mountain Province.
Under writ of kalikasan in 2012 over an open dump near the Chico River, Bontoc charged each household up to 600 pesos in garbage fees a year, Navarro said.
Baguio generates an average of 400 metric tons of trash, and about 140 tons of non-biodegradable trash has been shipped to commercial landfills since 2012 after the city’s only open dump was dismantled.
The Barangay Irisan landfill was forcibly closed in 2010 by residents when it exceeded its capacity.
In 2011, the landfill collapsed following a storm, killing five people, including a pregnant woman, and dumping decades-old waste on settlements straddling Baguio and the nearby town of Tuba in Benguet. The landfill was transformed into an ecological park 10 years later.
But the city’s trash has continued to rise, in part due to the growing population, which now stands at 366,358 at the 2020 census, in a city designed and built for just 25,000 people.
Navarro said Baguio also hosts a daytime population of 750,000 transient workers, students, business people and vacationers who leave behind trash at the end of each day.
City administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said the city’s smart city system and a tourism monitoring platform called Visita (visitor information and travel assistance) could charge environmental fees to cover day tourists who leave their rubbish behind. Every tourist is required to register with Visita, which schedules all trips to the city.
In 2019, Magalong, a first-term mayor, pursued a waste-to-energy project sponsored by the Ministry of Energy and the Japanese government when he began planning Baguio’s redevelopment.
But the program was put on hold after Japan’s Toyo Engineering Corp. suffered losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor said.
Instead, Baguio and the Energy Development Corp. of the Philippine National Oil Co. piloted a similar project in the town of Sablan, also in Benguet, which is brokered by businessman Robert John Sobrepeña.
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