Sunday, June 16, 2019

Editorial: Floating medical waste

(Editorial Cartoon by Josua S. Cabrera)

RODIRICO Tagaan, chief of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office in Lapu-Lapu City, described the medical waste found off the coast of Barangay Ibo as “hazardous and infectious.” There are no reports yet of the medical waste’s ill effect on people in the surrounding area, but worries have surfaced, thus the need for local government units (LGUs), that in Lapu-Lapu City primarily, to act.

The Lapu-Lapu City Government has already sent notices to two private hospitals based in Mandaue City, which are operating across the Mactan Channel, to explain. Newspaper reports quote representatives of at least one hospital that they have outsourced the disposal of their medical waste to a Davao City-based firm. Which should widen the scope of the investigation.

Those who outsource the disposal of waste never bother to find out where the firm being hired throws the said waste. For example, there was an instance in the past when a firm that collected waste from septic tanks ended up throwing the waste into the drainage pipes.

Many LGUs, and in this case private hospitals, have never really warmed up to the principle that pushed Congress to enact the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act 9003). That principle is simple: modernize the country’s solid waste disposal methods and prod LGUs to prioritize that aspect of governmental service. The law has provisions on the disposal of medical waste.

Yet LGUs, more often than not, give waste disposal the least priority and, worse, use it for politicking and to advance other interests. Indeed, as the issue of medical waste found in the coast off Lapu-Lapu City catches our attention, Cebu City is reported to be considering spending millions to purchase 21 garbage compactor trucks.

The bidding process for the purchase needs to be monitored because one supplier, according to an opposition city councilor, is the favorite of the mayor because he is the mayor’s number one donor of election funds. Incidentally, we have another election coming in May.

Cebu City no longer has a sanitary landfill with the closure of the facility in Barangay Inayawan and there is not even any talk of constructing one in the future. In the meantime, the City has spent P400 million in rentals using trucks initially supplied for several months by a favorite service provider.

So there.


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