Itogon council votes against establishment of ESL

ITOGON, BENGUET – The Municipal Council of Itogon, Benguet passed a resolution against the establishment of an Engineered Sanitary Landfill (ESL) in the 60 hectare parcel owned by Benguet Corporation (BengCorp) in Antamok, Itogon, Benguet.

Municipal councilor Dax Godio said the proposal states that there is a need for a thorough study about the pros and cons of the project spearheaded by the local government unit (LGU) of Baguio City.

Municipal Mayor Victor Palangdan said the LGU of Itogon will endorse the project since there is a need for the establishment of the ESL to benefit Itogon considering that garbage is starting to be an issue in the municipality.

Palangdan said the concerned LGUs and BengCorp must review and amend the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed to thresh out issues pertaining to the use of the ESL and fees to be paid.

Earlier, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said MoA signed among and between the LGUs of Baguio and Itogon, BengCorp and Goldrich Natural Exploration and Development Inc., was primarily for the use of the mining company’s Antamok open pit property.

Domogan explained there were no other intentions of the agreement but for the identification of the Antamok open pit site as a Solid Waste Disposal Facility (SWDF) to support the processing of the pertinent permits and clearances from the concerned government agencies before the signing of any detailed agreement in the future once the use of the area shall have been approved.

Domogan agrees with the concerns of Palangdan that the host municipality should be entitled to free dumping of their waste and a share of the tipping fees collected by the developer and these concerns will be incorporated into a detailed agreement to be entered among the parties once the use of the area for its prescribed purpose shall have been finalized and approved by concerned government agencies.

Domogan said the counterpart of Baguio City to the agreement is to guarantee at least 300 tons of garbage daily to make feasible the operation of the land fill and the waste-to-energy plant for both the developer and the mining company.

The project has a lifespan of 25 years and renewable for another 25 years upon the mutual agreement of the involved parties purposely to effectively and efficiently address the garbage disposal problems of the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay (BLISTT) areas.

Domogan assured that future agreements to be signed will favor the host communities without compromising their stand for the sustained preservation and protection of the environment and the health of the people pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Jojo Lamaria/