The Ecological Solid Waste Management (SWM) Act of 2000 or Republic Act (RA) 9003 is meant to protect public health and the environment while promoting resource conservation and recovery and public cooperation and responsibility. However, a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) discovered varying SWM implementation processes at the local level, reflecting the need for the government to revisit its policies.
In a webinar recently organized by PIDS, Senior Research Fellow Sonny Domingo, who co-wrote the study with Research Analyst Arvie Joy Manejar, presented the findings of their research that analyzed the country’s SWM regulatory policies.
RA 9003 has been institutionalized both at the national and subnational levels, with the implementation largely devolved to local government units (LGUs).
Under the law, barangays are in charge of segregating and collecting residential solid wastes while cities/municipalities handle special and hazardous wastes. It also mandates the forced closure of existing open dumpsites and the transition to sanitary landfills and requires the creation of SWM boards at each LGU to oversee the implementation of SWM plans.
However, despite the implementation of RA 9003 for more than two decades now, Domingo noted that the country is still grappling with management issues.
According to him, the role of local chief executives is crucial in prioritizing SWM in their administrative plans. But “much of the implementation burden falls on focal persons from various bodies and task forces.” This is because the law did not explicitly identify a working body alongside subnational waste committees. To address this issue, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), as a consolidator of these plans, recommended the immediate institutionalization of municipal and city environment and natural resources offices.
Domingo added that the NSWMC “failed to create safety nets and alternative livelihood programs for the informal economy that would be displaced by facilities”.
He explained that the institutionalization of the informal economy has to be looked at as well as the strengthening of industry linkages to make the SWM operation from collection hubs to market industries sustainable. For instance, the Province of Rizal partnered with cement companies wherein its collected residual wastes are provided to factories to serve as an alternative fuel under certain conditions.
There is also the issue of passive public engagement in various SWM activities.
“Communities are passive while barangays are heavily dependent on cities and municipal governments. We have local populations that are not contributing in terms of local discourse, decisionmaking, participation, and compliance in activities on solid waste management,” Domingo pointed out.
He also emphasized the need to harmonize policy and institutional direction. “We have to be compliant with the policy. [We need to check] whether the policy is still apt and applicable or [if we need] to look at other options,” he explained.
Moreover, Domingo proposed that technology options and interventions need to be developed and institutionalized for easy adaptation within localities.
“State-of-the-art solid waste management facility design with vertical linkage to markets for sustainability has to be packaged. This is doable. Technology designs are there. We just have to package everything and come up with a local version that is applicable to our local government units,” he said. ###
You may watch the webinar at For more videos of PIDS events, go to

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