New task force formed to enforce plastic-free Baguio ordinance

BAGUIO CITY – A new task force jointly headed by the City Environment and Parks Management Office and the General Services Office has been formed to implement the Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio City Ordinance.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan, in Administrative Order No. 171 series of 2018 issued Nov. 12 also deputized three representatives from each of the 128 barangays composed of the barangay captain, the barangay kagawad assigned on health and sanitation and ecological and environment committee and his kagawad alternate to implement Ordinance No. 35 series of 2017 as members of the Plastic Carry/Shopping Bags and Styrofoam-Free Baguio Task Force or Task Force Anti-Plastic.

The task force will be in charge of issuing notices of violation, citation tickets indicating corresponding penalty or reprimand and confiscating and seizing the prohibited materials to be turned over to the Public Order and Services Division of the City Mayor's Office along with the violators.

This is "to avoid untoward cases and complaints against the Task Force members."

It will also lead in the information-education-communication (IEC) campaign of the ordinance and the orientation and training for the barangay officials who have been deputized to enforce the measure.

It will be required to submit to the GSO a weekly report with copies of the notices of violation and/or citation tickers for proper monitoring.

Other members of the task force are the representatives of the City Treasury Office, the Baguio City Police Office and the business permit and licensing, public order and safety division and public information divisions of the City Mayor's Office.

Last September, the mayor deputized some 43 operatives from the city government offices as force multipliers in the implementation of the Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio City Ordinance.

The personnel from the POSD, GSO and CEPMO took their oath after undergoing an orientation on the provisions of the ordinance as well as the protocol and procedures on deputization and on the proper decorum in the enforcement.

Councilor Peter Fianza reminded that 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.

However, the use of plastic bags other than as carry or shopping bags is allowed, he said.

He said customers can provide their own carry or shopping bags as long as these are not made of plastic and that 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.

Fianza said the use of oxo-biodegradable plastic bags is also not allowed as these are still considered plastic materials.

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.

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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