IT’S sad how government officials can come up with an unscientific reaction to what can be considered a legitimate health and environmental concern after hazardous and infectious waste was seen floating off the coast of Barangay Ibo in Lapu-Lapu City over the weekend. Just because the waste was found in Mactan Channel does not necessarily mean it is no longer safe to swim in the said channel.
Dr. Agnes Realiza, health officer of Lapu-Lapu City, said the possibility that the city’s coastal water had been contaminated was not far-fetched considering the volume of hazardous wastes found. The advise: avoid swimming in the channel and foraging for shellfish. That’s a case of jumping to conclusion.
To be fair, Realiza’s advice, which was echoed by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, has a purpose. It can be good as precautionary measure. But the scientific way is to eventually conduct an examination of the water before making a conclusion. That should ensure the correctness of the policy that would be implemented.
The same applies with Radaza’s other point, that many vessels use that stretch of water thereby insinuating that water at the Mactan Channel is dirty. Actually, nobody can be sure unless the water is examined. And one can’t even be assured that Radaza’s claim that the water of the Hilutungan Channel on the opposite side of Mactan island is safe. How can she be sure?
Indeed, one can make an argument that the Mactan and Hilutungan channels share one water and that the dirt at the Mactan Channel can be carried to the opposite side depending on the direction of the tide’s flow. Admittedly, even that argument is faulty.
If government officials want to really come up with a good policy on swimming in the Mactan Channel, or even the Hilutungan Channel, it must come up with an acceptable scientific study. Doing that based on conjectures would be bad considering that it could create worries among tourists, both local and foreign.
The discovery of the medical waste there can be a good opportunity to proceed with the conduct of an examination of the waters—just to be sure.