Opposition to Urdaneta City landfill project imaginary, says mayor

By Danny O Sagun

Dagupan City (19 August) -- There is no actual opposition against the plan to put up a sanitary landfill in barangay Catablan in Urdaneta City since the few residents in the area are themselves the beneficiaries of the existing dumpsite there, City Mayor Amadeo Perez, Jr. clarified Wednesday in a media forum.

"Imaginary lang 'yan," Perez said, pointing out that the proposed project site is sparsely populated with some 10 to 15 houses in the area. The landfill project will occupy the existing controlled dumpsite plus the adjacent lots to be acquired.

Kung meron mang umaangal, pitik lang ng pulitika ’yan," he told the weekly Engkwentro forum at the Lenox Hotel organized by the revitalized Pangasinan Press Club.

The city is securing a bank loan of P220 million to finance the project which includes the acquisition of lots, right of way for the access road and other improvements to be made, Perez said.

Asked if the facility would only accommodate garbage from the city, Perez said that neighboring towns particularly those that could not put up their own sanitary landfill facilities because of financial constraints may be allowed to dump their wastes there for a fee.

Neighboring Sta. Barbara town, which has been using the controlled dumpsite, is charged P350 per truck. "Pakikisama na lang namin yan sa kanila," he said.

Dagupan City Information Officer Ryan Ravanzo, who also guested at the media forum representing Mayor Alipio Fernandez, Jr., said that the city is weighing its options of whether it will itself put up its own landfill system or coordinate with those with existing facilities.

Local government units are given until December 31 this year to put up their sanitary landfill systems. Existing dumpsites, Perez said, will be closed after the deadline imposed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The administration of former Mayor Benjamin S. Lim bought a lot in barangay Awai in San Jacinto town to develop it into a landfill but local residents there strongly opposed the plan. Until now the city has yet to finally solve its garbage disposal problem in the face of warning by the DENR for its continued use of the open dumpsite in Tondaligan.

Perez noted that it was really impossible for all municipalities especially those that belong to the lower classes to build their own sanitary landfill facilities because of the costs involved. Urdaneta, a burgeoning city, needs to secure a loan just to put up the facility.

About P10 million to P15 million is needed to buy lots adjacent to the existing dumpsite and to improve the access road. The landfill system needs P180 million to P200 million, he disclosed.

Some 75 to 80 tons of garbage are being collected daily from the poblacion area alone. "Aabot ng 150 to 180 tons pag kinolekta lahat ng basura sa buong syudad," he said.

Income-generating or not, the mayor said the project is a worthwhile endeavor for environment protection despite its cost. But it may be a self-liquidating project too when the facility is opened for use by other towns, he observed. (PIA Pangasinan)