DAVAO CITY’S proposed waste-to-energy (WTE) project is still up for final approval by the national government and has yet to secure the full funding needed to set up the facility, according to a local council member.
Councilor Temujin “Tek” B. Ocampo, chair of the city council’s environment committee, said the WTE plan has already been endorsed by the Department of Energy and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and is awaiting the green light from the National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA) green light.
“The ball right now is still with NEDA,” he said at a media forum last week.
“We are still waiting to be approved in NEDA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will just comply,” he added.
In March last year, former city mayor and now Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio reported that DENR has agreed to allocate P740 million for the P3.5 billion government counterpart fund needed to supplement the P2-billion grant provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The city government has already purchased a 10-hectare lot for the project, which is now being reassessed for wider use by the Metro Davao area composed of six cities and nine towns within Davao region.
Under the original design, the WTE has a capacity for about 600 metric tons of waste and produce up to 12 megawatts of energy.
Mr. Ocampo said the city government sees the WTE, planned in partnership with its sister city Kitakyushi in Japan more than three years ago, as the best waste management option.
The city’s existing sanitary landfill is expected to reach full capacity this year.
Environmental groups, however, continue to oppose the project and have recently urged JICA to withdraw its funding support.
The groups made the call during a forum held earlier this month. Among those in attendance were the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific, Ecowaste Coalition, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS)-Davao, Ecoteneo, Masipag Mindanao, Panalipdan Youth-Davao, and Saligan-Mindanaw.
Farmers and residents also joined the meeting.
Gary S. Villocino of Masipag, a network of farmers in Davao, said the WTE facility poses a threat to public health as well as valuable agricultural land “that could be used to cultivate resources for the community.”
Mark T. Peñalver of IDIS-Davao said incineration is not a renewable or sustainable energy source, and harms the environment.
“It produces more greenhouse gasses than coal. So not only is incineration a bad choice for the environment, but it’s also not a wise choice from a climate perspective,” Mr. Peñalver said in a statement.
The groups also reiterated their push to improve waste management starting at the household and community levels. — Maya M. Padillo