39 stalls called out for violating plastic-free ordinance
BAGUIO CITY – Thirty nine stalls at the city market were called out for violating the Plastic and Styrofoam-Free Baguio City Ordinance of the city.
Market Division Chief Fernando Ragma Jr. said of the 39, 14 were caught providing plastic bags to customers while 25 failed to post the required signage.
Ragma said the stall owners were issued notices of violation which serve as their first and last warning.
He said monitoring will continue and those who will commit a second offense will be subjected to a fine of P1,000.
As of Dec. 7 last year, Ragma placed the market stall owners’ compliance to the ordinance at 80-90 percent.
“It is important to note that the buying public are now aware and bring their own re-usable bags or containers when they come to the public market,” he noted.
The Plastic Carry/Shopping Bags and Styrofoam-Free Baguio Task Force or Task Force Anti-Plastic recently formed by Mayor Mauricio Domogan is also set to conduct spot inspections of business establishments all over the city to sustain awareness and ensure their compliance with the ordinance.
Engr. Moses Lozano, acting assistant head of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) which spearheads the task force with the General Services Office said the inspections should supplement the regular check-ups being done by the Market Division of the City Treasury Office and by the Public Order and Safety Division of the City Mayor’s Office.
The mayor recently deputized 43 operatives from various city government offices and three officials from each of the 128 barangays as force multipliers in the implementation of the ordinance.
While there remain some grey areas as to the measure’s enforcement guidelines, the task force decided to concentrate on the rules clearly laid down in the ordinance.
Ordinance No. 35-17 prohibits business establishments from providing any customer any plastic bag or polystyrene foam container for goods or items purchased or in serving food or drink, take out or dine-in to customers in polystyrene containers or in plastic bags and will cover all business activities and establishments in the city including city government schools and offices.
Earlier, Coun. Peter Fianza clarified that only the sale, distribution and use of plastic carry or shopping bags and styrofoam is prohibited and as such, stores cannot provide clients with plastic bags.
However, the use of plastic bags other than as carry or shopping bags is allowed, he said.
He said customers can provide their own carry or shopping bags as long as these are not made of plastic and that styrofoam cannot be used as containers for cooked or raw food. Plastic containers can be used as alternative for these types of food but must be carried in bags that are not made of plastic;
The only exception from the prohibition is the use of plastic bags for primary packaging of wet goods and items.
Businessmen whose line of business is selling plastic bags by the volume are not prohibited from plying their trade.
Fianza said the use of oxo-biodegradable plastic bags is also not allowed as these are still considered plastic materials.
All businesses will be required to post a signage: “Bawal ang Paggamit ng Plastic Bags at Styrofoam.”
As part of the provisions of the ordinance, all city government schools and offices should maintain a “No Plastic Bag No Styrofoam” policy in their offices or school premises including in government-sponsored events and functions.
The penalties are reprimand or immediate closure of establishments without business permits for first offense; P1,000 fine for second offense; P3,000 fine and eight hours community service for third offense and P5,000 fine and suspension of business permit for six months for fourth offense.
Penalties for violation of any of the provisions by heads of the city government offices, school administrators, principals and concerned persons in authority will be subject to Republic Act No. 6713 and other local orders and issuances.** Aileen P. Refuerzo