ILOILO CITY – The municipality of Maasin in the province of Iloilo promotes the use of native baskets as an alternative to single-use plastics at the same time highlights the town’s bamboo industry through its “Balik-Alat” program.
“The main purpose of the 'Balik-Alat' Program is to regulate the use of single-use plastics in markets and commercial establishments in Maasin. Instead, we are encouraging Maasinanons to go back to our use of eco-bags or native baskets, popularly known to us as 'alat',” according to Maasin municipal environment and natural resources officer Noemie Marie Magullado in a phone interview on Wednesday.
"Alat" is a basket made of bamboo, which is abundant in the town paving the way for the "Balik-Alat" program as mandated by Municipal Ordinance number 2021-003 authored by Sangguniang Bayan member Mindaluz Billena.
“Another main purpose is for us to promote Maasin as the bamboo capital of Panay, bamboo being our raw material for the native basket,” Magullado added.
Magullado said they used to encourage their residents to use recyclable or biodegradable materials but with poor acceptance.
Last week they started the campaign anchored on the municipal ordinance while planning is underway to launch the program for wider awareness.
The ordinance carries a fine of PHP1,000, PHP1,500 and PHP2,500 and/or one-month imprisonment depending on the discretion of the local court for the first to third offense, respectively.
“If the third offense is committed by our business permitees, it is possible that we will revoke their business permits or licenses,” she said.
The Maasin Kawayan Multipurpose Cooperative and the Katilingban sang mga Pumuluyo nga Nagaatipan sa Watershed (KAPAWA), an association of farmers within the town’s watershed area that promotes the protection of bamboo and the watershed, and local farmers inside the public market have been tapped to provide for the needed stocks of native baskets.
Magullado added that approximately there are 3,000 hectares of bamboo plantations within the watershed area while they are still updating their data for plantations outside of the watershed.
She said the ordinance would provide income to farmers in Maasin once the shift from single-use plastic to "alat" in the municipality would gather support. (PNA)