THE Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has cleared some 22 potential sites for landfills in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) for potential use in addition to the nine current facilities used by the region’s almost 1.8 million residents.

EMB Cordillera Director Maria Victoria Abrera said that of the 22 sites, 13 are in Benguet Province, four in Mountain Province, three in Abra, and two in Ifugao.

Part of the approval process by the EMB includes a 13-point checklist to ensure that the waste storage and disposal facilities would not be within proximity of water sources, whether on the surface or underground, as well as environmentally critical areas.

Abrera says that active landfills in the region are currently located in the towns of Alfonso Lista and Lamut in Ifugao, Apayao’s Pudtol, Calanasan and Luna towns, Tabuk City and Rizal town in Kalinga, and Benguet’s La Trinidad Valley, and a private compound of gold producer Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp. in Mankayan town.

Meanwhile, the municipalities of Bucay in Abra, Flora and Conner in Apayao, Besao in Mountain Province, Balbalan in Kalinga, and Mayoyao in Ifugao are in the process of putting up their own landfills.

However, Baguio City, one of the most populous localities in the region with 366,358 individuals as of the 2020 census, has no landfill to utilize.

The city spends some P100 million annually to haul its garbage to a landfill in Tarlac, as its only open dump in Barangay Irisan was closed following a 2012 Writ of Kalikasan won in court when the dump spilled 20,000 cubic meters of garbage and buried homes and killed six people during a storm.

According to Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the city is looking to establish a waste-to-energy facility in neighboring Sablan to reduce the city’s garbage output as well as provide power for Baguio City and its neighboring municipalities.