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Slum dwellers against plan to train garbage collectors for employment.

Manila: A group organised to protect the rights of informal settlers in Metro Manila criticised a government agency which announced its plan to train garbage collectors for employment, adding the training is meant to cut down earnings made by slum dwellers engaged in recovery and sale of recycled and biodegradable trash.

"The government wants a slice of earnings from garbage collection. Slum dwellers have monopolised the lowly activity of earning money from garbage collection. They have been helping the government reduce the volume of solid waste sent to landfills, and the bulk of garbage indiscriminately dumped on waterways that cause floods and disease outbreaks," Benjamin Gabiertan, who collects plastic bottles in restaurants in Cavite, southern Mero Manila, told Gulf News.

Not a slum dweller, Gabiertan said, "I also pay slum dwellers who gather plastic bottles in other areas of Cavite. I sell what we reap, from 100 to 150 plastic battles a day, to a group that sells, in turn, bigger bulks of used plastic to bigger companies." His net is P1,200 (Dh100) a day for three hours of work.

"The announcement of the Technical Education and Skills development Authority (TESDA) to train and certify garbage collectors could lead to a loss of entrepreneurial spirit from slum dwellers who have been collecting garbage for money," said Carlito Badion, secretary general of Kadamay.

"The course offered by TESDA is an insult to slum dwellers and garbage collectors, They have been working in sanitary landfills because the government cannot offer them jobs," said Badion, adding, "Those who are picking up garbage in sanitary landfills cannot afford to undergo skills training for the purpose of securing certification as garbage collectors."

A third of Metro Manila's 11.5 million residents live in depressed areas. Badion did not give the number of slum dwellers who work at sanitary landfills.

Metro Manila is waste management challenged. It produces about 8,400 to 8,600 tons of garbage a day, a high 25 per cent of the country's daily solid waste of 35,000 tons. Metro Manila's 636 square metre sprawl is .21 per cent of the country's total land area, said Emy Aguinaldo, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, an agency attached to the department of environment and natural resources.

About half of Metro Manila's garbage is biodegradable waste: animal carcasses, food scraps, and trees; 17 per cent are paper; 16 per cent are plastics; and the rest are ceramics, leather, metals, and rubber, said Aguinaldo.

Metro Manila has 15 cities and one municipality.

Only nine cities have solid waste management plan, but only a third of biodegradable waste from these nine cities is recycled into compost, said Aguinaldo, adding that Metro Manila's waste is dumped at landfills in suburban Montalban, Navotas, and Tanza. They can accommodate Metro Manila's garbage for five decades as of 2013.

In 2013, Metro Manila's local government units spent P4.221 billion (Dh351.75 million) garbage hauling expense, Rappler, an online agency, quoted from the report of the Commission on Audit.

Critics said nothing much was done after Congress passed in 2000 the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or Republic Act 9003. It requires local government units to decentralise garbage collection and hauling It also promotes waste segregation, recycling and composting to cut down waste production.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Aug 16, 2015
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