43 deputized to implement plastic-free ordinance

BAGUIO CITY – Some 43 operatives from the City Government officers were deputized last Thursday as force multipliers in the implementation of the Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio City Ordinance.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan administered the oath of the personnel from the Public Order and Safety Division of the City Mayor's Office, General Services Office, City Environment and Parks Management Office and the barangays as augmentation force of the Baguio City Police office during the closing of the orientation-cum-deputization conducted for the enforcers and members of the Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio Task Force.

The training program conducted by the Monitoring and Oversight Committee which oversees the implementation of the ordinance and the City Solid Waste Management Board (CSWMB) aimed to capacitate members of the task force headed by General Services Officer Eugene Buyucan and select operatives from the various offices in the enforcement of the various provisions of the ordinance.

At the end of the workshop, the participants came up with a module to help in the implementation of the measure.

Councilor Peter Fianza who facilitated the orientation on Ordinance No. 35 series of 2017 explained the coverage as well as the grey areas in the measure.

He emphasized that as stated in the ordinance, only the sale, distribution and use of plastic carry or shopping bags and Styrofoam is prohibited and as such, stores cannot provide clients with plastic bags.

He also clarified the following:

Customers can provide their own carry or shopping bags as long as these are not made of plastic;

Styrofoam cannot be used to as containers for cooked or raw food. Plastic containers can be used as alternative for these types of food but must be carried in bags that are not made of plastic;

The only exception for the prohibition is the use of plastic bags for primary packaging of wet goods and items;

Businessmen whose line of business is selling plastic bags by the volume are not prohibited from plying their trade;

The use of plastic bags other than as carry or shopping bags is allowed.

Fianza said the use of oxo-biodegradable plastic bags is being tolerated as of the moment but strictly speaking, these are still considered plastic materials and are still disallowed in the ordinance.

Fianza said that the implementation is expected to be made easier with the module that will be adopted by the task force which should be based on the ordinance.

He said the City Council will be open to further improving through amendments the provisions based on the results, observations and recommendations including the adoption of alternative technologies that will be gathered in the course of the implementation of the measure.

During the training, the participants were also taught the protocol and procedures on deputation and on the proper decorum in the enforcement of the ordinance by Attorney III Rhenan Diwas of the City Legal Office and on the Do's and Don't's during Apprehension and Confiscation by POSD Security Officer Bromeo Lumiib.

Ordinance No. 35-17 prohibits business establishments from providing any customer any plastic bag or polystyrene foam container for goods or items purchased or serving food or drink, take out or dine in to customers in polystyrene containers or in plastic bags and will cover all business activities and establishments in the city including city government schools and offices.

All businesses will be required to post a signage: "Bawal ang Paggamit ng Plastic Bags at Styrofoam."

As part of its provisions, the measure mandates all city government schools and offices to maintain a "No Plastic Bag No Styrofoam" policy in their office or school premises including in government-sponsored events and functions.

The penalties are reprimand or immediate closure for establishments without business permit for first offense; P1,000 fine for second offense; P3,000 fine and eight hours community service for third offense and P5,000 fine and suspension of business permit for six months for fourth offense.

Penalties for violation of any of the provision by heads of the city government offices, school administrators, principals and concerned persons in authority will be subject to Republic Act No. 6713 and other local orders and issuances. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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