BORACAY Random Notes By Noel Cabobos
Since Boracay is the banner island of the Philippines, it simply follows that the entire world is looking at us. So when we parade our thrash on the streets, how many countries are watching the filth of governance of this so-called world-class island? Man, it’s the whole world!
This outrageous phenomenon has put on the spot the issue of a stinky elephant in our midst called ECOS Sanitary Landfill and Waste Management Corporation, a corporation-partner of the local government of Malay which, according to the partnership agreement, shall develop and carry out the ecological solid waste management project of the Municipality of Malay in pursuance to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and in line with the National Solid Waste Management Framework to ensure the efficient management of solid waste generated within the Municipality of Malay.
This particular issue is really big as the elephant so let’s cut this elephant on smaller chunks then put it to digestible bite-size. Let’s start with how it all began.
HOW ECOS WAS FORMED?
Back in 2017, the island was in the middle of a garbage crisis which propelled the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to order the residents, hotel and restaurant owners in practicing waste segregation to address the garbage crisis.
Secretary Roy Cimatu, in the process, also gave the local government of Malay an ultimatum to address the emergency while ensuring that environment laws are strictly followed and that there will be no “open dumpsite” or heads will roll.
Due to volunteerism efforts of haulers on Boracay, the garbage that were piling at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Brgy. Manoc-manoc had been cleared off the island as they were transferred to the Sanitary Landfill on Brgy. Kabulihan in the mainland Malay.
Of course, most significant of these haulers are the 10-wheeler hauling trucks of RLCL owned by Richard Chan Lek, son of Leon Chan of Solid Merchandise known by and far as a big-time contractor in the Municipality of Ibajay and who has been operating a sizable quarry site at the Ibajay River.
Like an elephant, RLCL is so big that it is basically complete with all the heavy equipment and hauling trucks needed which can easily generate 5,000 cubic meters of gravel every day.
RLCL used to supply only the local traders in Sambiray, Caticlan, but through time the firm extended its operation on Boracay Island and have been directly supplying to construction sites to the loss of the small hauling companies, in fact, displacing some of them in the process.
This gave the chance for RLCL to corner the contract of hauling the garbage from Boracay to the Sanitary Landfill in the mainland Malay, which eventually allows its trucks a free entry to deliver gravel and sand to its customers plus a fee to haul the garbage out of the island. Two birds in one stone. Sure win. Sure money.
But since the local government, inutile as it used to be, was not able to manage the mounting garbage in compliance with the Solid Waste Management Act, unsegregated wastes piled up at the landfill due to the daily impounding of tons and tons of garbage from the island.
This was the birth of ECOS Sanitary Landfill and Waste Management Corporation whose incorporators include Richard Chan Lek, his wife, his sister and brother-in-law. They all partnered with couple Oliver and Corazon Zamora, both from Manila, who allegedly, are experts in landfill management.
Under the partnership, RLCL will take charge of the garbage collection and the hauling while the Zamora couple will undertake the management of the sanitary landfill. The scheme that was used in the contract with Malay LGU was PPP or Public-Private-Partnership to get rid of the bidding process.
Under the partnership agreement, Malay LGU shall pay ECOS a total of P6.84 per kilo for the collection and hauling while the landfill development will cost the government P1,376,000 per month, plus a fixed operational cost of P304,166.67 per month, and another plus of P.60 per kilo as tipping fee. Wow! What a gold mine! Really fantastic!
WHY IT WAS APPROVED BY THE LGU?
But why this excessive and onerous proposal of ECOS got the nod of the LGU?
Unimpeachable sources told this writer that an equally elephant-size funding rolled in the process as lobby fund. Is it true that ECOS spent some P10 Million to have the juicy exclusive contract signed? And it is for 15 years? Who and how many benefited is really a puzzle that should be solved here.
And is it true that aside from the lobby fund, a secret arrangement of 10% from the gross income shall be shared by ECOS to some officials of Malay? Is this the reason why the LGU is so defensive of ECOS even it parades our garbage on the streets of Boracay, a blatant violation of the agreement since it is mandated to collect the garbage on the island on a daily basis.
Is this also the reason why the LGU keeps on paying ECOS, which is now said to be a hefty 100-Million-plus in less than a year of its operation? Unbelievable it may seem but this is real. So real.
On top of that, rumors are also rife that the sitting mayor, Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista, is pocketing a share of P50 per cubic of sand and gravel that is entering the island in addition to another P50 per cubic share of some other government employees who are directly involved in the ECOS hauling operations. So everybody now wants to have a share of the pie, huh?!
Any comment, Mayor Fromy? Are the members of the Sanggunian not alarmed? Why the silence? Are issues like this one doesn’t merit floor deliberations? Are there no more advocates left in the legislative body of Malay? Or are they also on the take?
Well, we have to be reminded that eight 10-wheeler trucks of aggregates are coming to the island due to this scheme wherein each truck can load up to 20 cubic meters or a total of 160 cubic meters every day. This only means that, if true, some sanamagans are earning P16,000 share on aggregates every day. Fuck!
I really don’t have the positivity to greet everyone a Happy New Year but let it be stated anyway. (Next: The status of RLCL aggregates, the findings of the Commission on Audit, the position of Boracay stakeholders on the ECOS’ Implementing Rules and Regulations, and why ECOS partnership with the LGU is void from the very beginning?)