Noxious, obnoxious

Dear Atty. Joji Alonso,

I have a neighbor who has a habit of burning her swept dried leaves in her backyard after cleaning. The smoke keeps on getting inside my house and my children are coughing nonstop because of this. What annoys me the most is that their house is just beside the garbage dump. What should I do?



Dear Erik,

You may file a complaint against your neighbor for violating the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003 sets the policy of the State to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program which shall, among others, ensure the protection of the public health and environment and ensure the proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of the best environmental practice in ecological waste management, excluding incineration.

Apart from this, several acts are prohibited, as mentioned in Section 48 of the law. Included in this prohibition is the act of open burning of solid waste as provided in Section 48, paragraph 3.

Solid waste as defined in RA 9003 refers to “all discarded household, commercial waste, non-hazardous institutional and industrial waste, street sweepings, construction debris, agricultural waste, and other non-hazardous/non-toxic solid waste. Xxx” (Rule III, Implementing Rules and Regulations, RA 9003).

“Open burning” refers to the thermal destruction of wastes by means of direct exposure to fire. Furthermore, this definition shall apply to traditional small-scale methods of community sanitation or “siga” (Ibid.).

Thus, your neighbor’s act of burning the fallen leaves and their household waste in their backyard is included within the ambit of acts prohibited under RA 9003. Hence, she may be penalized. Any person who violates Section 48, paragraph 3, shall, upon conviction, be punished with a fine of not less than P300 but not more than P1,000 or imprisonment of not less than one day but not more than 15 days, or both (Sec. 49[b], RA 9003).

Violators of Section 48 of RA 9003 shall be subject to criminal proceedings, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the revised rules on criminal procedure (Rule XIX, Section 2, Implementing Rules and Regulations, RA 9003).

Any citizen may file an appropriate civil, criminal or administrative action in the proper courts or bodies against any person who violates or fails to comply with the provisions of the Act (Rule XX, Section 1, Ibid.).

Hope this helps.

Atty. Joji Alonso

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