May 25, 2011 – Taking it one step at a time for a quantum leap to implement “no plastic” ordinance in Ibaan, local government officials of Municipality of Ibaan, together with Ibaan Market Vendors Association representatives, went to a “Lakbay Aral” to Municipality of Paete, Laguna, having the same ordinance implemented for two years now, to learn and get a hold of ropes surrounding said ordinance.
Arriving at Paete, the officials were met by the town’s Mayor Emmanuel B. Cadayona and were led to Sangguniang Bayan Session Hall for discussions and open forum. They brought with them gifts/token such as Tamales-Ibaan, barakong kape andBatangas Balisong which were highly appreciated and accepted by Mayor Cadayona.
Participants of the “Lakbay Aral” include Mayor Danny Toreja, Vice Mayor Sixto
Yabyabin, Coun. Socrates Arellano, Coun. Paul John Chua, Coun. Brill John Torino, Coun. Tony Benitez, Coun. Victoriano Maputi, Coun. Rodel De Castro, SK Federation President Louie Humarang, Sangguniang Bayan Staff Beda Eleosida and Juanita Panganiban, Ibaan DILG Lorna Silva, Romeo de Torres and Rosalinda Silva of Ibaan Market Vendors Association and Mr. Roilan Maranan.
Mayor Toreja first introduced everyone to the host Mayor followed by Vice Mayor Yabyabin explaining the purposes and reasons of the visit at Paete. Ibaan DILG Ms. Lorna Silva then made most of the inquiries about the town’s “No Plastic Ordinance”. Inquiries were also made by Mayor Toreja, Vice Mayor Yabyabin themselves, Coun. Benitez, Coun. Mendoza and Mr. de Torres of IMVA.
According to Mayor Cadayona, the ordinance was first approved by their Sangguniang Bayan in February 2010. However, it was only implemented in June 2010 since the vendors asked for a 90-day grace period until they’ve disposed all of their remaining plastics.
The ordinance covers the prohibition of the use of plastic bags, Styrofoams, and styropor materials in different establishments, particularly in the market place. Original plastic packagings of goods delivered in town are exempted from the ordinance. But when a new plastic or plastic bag is to be used in repacking the goods purchased by consumers, that’s when the ordinance come into play.
Mayor Cadayona admitted it was never easy to implement the ordinance, much more with the people’s attitude of resisting to change. When asked how he went through it, he said he initially conducted a survey among households to determine the kind of waste materials they produce. With 12 tons of garbage collected everyday, plastics comprise 60% of waste materials.
Moreover, , during rainy days, Paete most of the time experience clogging of the town’s drainage system considering its limited depth and size, majority due to plastics. Thus, this which results to flooding around different areas of the municipality. And since it takes hundreds of years for plastics to decompose, Mayor Cadayona realized they have to be limited, if not eliminated.
Also, his staff conducted researches reaching as far as Iloilo, making reference as well to some European countries where paper bags are used in grocery stores instead of plastics. Owners and operators of different establishments were also called to ask and solicit for their opinions on how or what can be done to justify and implement the ordinance without compromising their business operations.
Paete has only more or less 25,000 number of population, compared to Ibaan with almost 50,000. And yet, it still took them three (3) months of preparations, consultations and researches before public hearings where conducted until the ordinance was finally implemented.
The ordinance applies to both vendor and buyer. Anyone who will be caught carrying plastic bags will be subject to some penalty. For business establishments, they will be charged with P500 for the first offense, P1,000 for second offense, and P1,500 plus revocation of business permit are slapped to erring establishments. Task Force Kalinisan was also created to check on the people’s compliance. Members of the TF Kalinisan walk around town with camera to take photos of the non-complying constituents. This is to avoid denials of the offense committed.
The photos are printed, then sent to the offender with a letter of reminder of what he/she has committed, including its corresponding penalty.
The services of municipal police and barangay officials down to barangay tanod are included in the operation for the ordinance’s strict implementation.
When asked about the difficulty in making people embrace the ideals of the ordinance, he said “Madugo yan. Meron talagang sasalungat sa’yo kahit gaano kaganda ang intensyon ng ordinansa. Hindi naman ito ordinansang barakuhan. Pero kailangang ipatupad sa mahabang pakiusapan. Lalong hindi ito para sa’kin. Para sa bayan ‘to”.
Serving his last term, Mayor Cadayona , without hesitation, admitted losing in one of the elections the first time he introduced the idea of establishing a landfill for a more effective solid waste management. People would go on a rally against him for the same reason. But now that DENR has granted them clearance and with people understanding the benefits of such, the town’s landfill is slowly moving forward. And with proper segregation, only 25% of waste materials will go landfill, the remaining 75% will be recycled or re-used.
After the consultation, Ibaan officials and representatives were led to town’s public market to see how things are done without plastic bags. To their surprise, Paetenos walk around either with baskets, recycled bags, paper bags made of newspaper andbanana leaves. Almost everything that were bought from the market are wrapped with banana leaves, as initial packaging, then paper bags or newspaper as secondary wrapper. Meat, vegetables, retailed rice and feeds are wrapped with banana leaves. Fish on the other hand are first inserted with a string, then wrapped also with banana leaves. Other consumers would bring tupperware or ice cream bucket for fish to avoid leaks.
For liquid products like vinegar, coconut milk and others, consumers bring with them their own plastic bottles. The bottles are used over and over again without throwing them.
According to Aling Nilda, one of the vendors, having no plastics are really difficult at first. But now that they’re reaping the ordinance’s benefits, not to mention the popularity of their town brought to them by latter, Paetenos now take the initiative in complying with the ordinance. Vendors now buy bundles of banana leaves for P100-P150. And in between breaks, they spend their time folding newspapers into paper bags.
Ibaan Sangguniang Bayan, headed by Vice Mayor Sixto Yabyabin, has already conducted initial public hearing on the said matter. Returning home, another round of public hearing will be scheduled. Such is expected to be attended by different business owners and other stakeholders.
Looking at the other side of the coin, such policy/ordinance may improve the town’s economic standing. With the use of banana leaves and old newspapers, small entrepreneurs may be give the opportunity to earn. Farmers with banana trees on their backyard will have more use of their crops aside from their fruits. The same thing goes with ordinary local junkers or what is commonly called “magbobote” who buys and sells papers.
And of course, not to mention its environmental benefits. Definitely, nobody wants to be wants raging flood engulfing the town. We’ve seen much of flooding. It can’t be denied, plastic belong to guilty party. More hideous than any political party.
Admittedly, this kind of ordinance will greatly affect specially those involved with selling plastics and styrofoams. However, this can still be balanced by limiting the kind of merchandise they sell. It will take time before it can be totally implemented to the extent of being a “zero-plastic community”. But a public hearing can look into some issues that can aggravate the situations. Things have to be put into balance. What people needs now is to have an optimistic and positive attitude on the policy.
We might not be able to eliminate and shut plastics out of the community. But maybe their numbers can be limited.
Leaving our footprints in this world need not to be messy. We can clean things up along the way. If everyone thinks its difficult to live without plastics, Paetenos will be glad to give us some tips and to educate the rest of the country.
Half of the world have been using paper bags already. Lately, Muntinlupa, towns in Laguna, like Paete, and then Batangas City are on the road for a “plastic-free community”.
If big cities can afford this, maybe a small town can do more for this. Ibaan folks survived and kept wheels of community turning with medieval way of life without plastics. Definitely, resistance ahead will be met. But only if we can see things beyond life’s difficulty without plastic, then maybe it will be easier for Ibaan to do the same.