The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is urging newly elected city and municipal mayors to prioritize the implementation of environmental laws, notably Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu reminded local officials of their duty under RA 9003, which provides for a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program in the country.

The law, according to Cimatu, states that LGUs are primarily responsible for waste segregation and disposal.

“We call on newly elected local officials to give priority to full and strict implementation of environmental laws, particularly on solid waste management,” Cimatu said.

Aside from RA 9003, Cimatu said the DENR is also counting on LGUs for the full implementation of RA 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 and RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

At the same time, the environment chief called on local government officials within the Manila Bay region to cooperate with the DENR-led inter-agency task force in charge of the Manila Bay rehabilitation.

“The task force cannot do it alone. We need the full cooperation of LGUs,” Cimatu said.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns Benny Antiporda warned that local officials found violating the provisions of RA 9003 could be held administratively and criminally liable.

Antiporda encouraged newly elected officials to report any violation of RA 9003, particularly the presence of open dumpsites in their respective localities.

“By doing so, these officials will send the right signal early on in their administration and that is they do not tolerate any wrongdoing,” Antiporda said.

The DENR official said that failure on the part of the newly elected officials to act or report any irregularities committed by their predecessors would be dealt accordingly.

“We will go after both newly elected and outgoing local officials who violated environmental laws,” Antiporda said. “Violators could face a jail term of up to three years.”

Last week, the DENR issued a cease and desist order against the municipal government of Limay in Bataan province for operating an open dumpsite right beside a creek flowing to Mamala River, which drains into Manila Bay.

Establishment and maintenance of an open dumpsite is strictly prohibited under RA 9003.

The DENR directed Limay officials to immediately stop the operation of the dumpsite and conduct immediate rehabilitation of the affected area. ###