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PIA Press Release

Sulu meeting seeks US help in solving waste and flood problems

Zamboanga City (17 November) -- In an effort to support Sulu's local government program with respect to Solid Waste Management and flood control in Jolo, the Philippine and US military arranged a meeting with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Environmental Governance (EcoGov) for technical and financial support.

A meeting, which was attended by the representatives of the military's Joint Task Force Comet and Task Force-Sulu's Civil Affairs Team, EcoGov of the USAID, municipal government units of Jolo, Indanan, and Patikul headed by their Provincial Government through the Area Coordinating Center, was held at Garden Orchid, Zamboanga City on Friday.

In behalf of Gov Sakur Tan, Provincial ACC Executive Director Falzur Abdulla said that the Provincial Government appreciates and welcomes any support and help from the military and USAID to back their ongoing efforts.

The garbage problem stemmed from the refuse dumped in Tugas Barangay, the site used by the Jolo municipality and several private organizations. The garbage is now piled on the side of the road blocking all access to a majority of the landfill area. The road block caused by garbage, if not immediately addressed, worries Patikul municipality.

For this reason, the municipal governments of Jolo, Indanan, and Patikul sought for technical assistance to improve the dump site. Manual labor and funds are available, however outside resourcing in obtaining heavy equipment and technical advice and expertise in sustaining waste management measures, is greatly needed.

Moreover, the flood problem was also discussed. Sulu Provincial Engineer Ben Akalal explained the causes of flood. According to him, the frequent flooding in the province premier town is brought about by the rapid urbanization.

"The poor awareness of local and barangay officials and concerned agencies to enforce proper maintenance of garbage/drainage system and proper zoning policies, greatly affect the existing canals, waterways, esteros, drainage and outlets especially in coastal barangays," states Engr Akalal.

He suggested and recommended for the following: the creation of Flood Crisis Council; conduct of clean-up operation of drainage system and reactivation of all condemned oulets; de-clogging of waterways, canals, and esteros; construction and rehabilitation of drainage pipelines; enforcement of local measures and ordinances related to solid waste management; information drive on solid waste management; and the integration of cleanliness campaign within the context of Islam.

"Solid waste management is just one of the keys in solving the flood problems in Jolo," he said.

Among the things agreed during the meeting: the sending of an ECOGOV Engineer to Sulu to assist in the assessment of needs of the program; involvement of the education sector and other concerned stakeholders in educating the community on waste management; production/development of materials on good practices; and participation of the religious sector in the promotion of cleanliness in accordance to Islamic teachings.

The meeting started with the introduction and goals/agenda by Task Force Sulu Civil Affairs Team Leader MAJ Arnel David. Becky Paz of the ECOGOV, USAID Program presented the ECOGOV capabilities, stressing on technical assistance on Solid Waste Management.

Also present were Ed Lim and Floreen Bartulaba of ECOGOV, USAID Program; Ben Akalal, Sulu Provincial ACC Engineer; Jake, Sulu Provincial ACC Staff; Brian Alawi, Jolo Municipal Planning and Development Office; Adzhar Sabtula, Jolo MPDO Staff; Luvisminda Hayudini, Patikul Municipal Planning and Development Office; Patarasa Tahil, Indanan Municipal Planning and Development Office; Jainab Abdulmajid, Task Force Sulu Cultural Advisor; MAJ Bradley Wallace, JSOTF-P Civil Affairs Company Commander; LT Jennie Dow, JSOTF-P Civil Military Operations Planner; MAJ Kurt Soholt, JSOTF-P Information Operations Chief; Dan Ruiz, NAVFAC Engineer; and PFC Ann Abrigo, JTF Comet.

Meanwhile, JTF Comet Commander Maj Gen Juancho M Sabban previously explained the importance and relation of clean environment to security.

"Areas mounted with garbage are convenient to bombers. It is where they can hide explosives from view. However, with a clean surrounding, it's difficult for them to plant bombs because it can easily be detected," he said. (42CRU, 4CRG, CRSAFP/PIA-BASULTA) [top]

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