Thursday, August 22, 2019

Briones: Na-shock pud ko (I’m also shocked)

BEWILDERED, he certainly was. He may even have been bothered. But I’m not sure “bewitched” would be an apt word to describe the reaction of the managing head of the Davao City Environmental Care Inc. (DCECI) when told about the medical wastes that were found in the Mactan Channel and along the shore of four barangays in Lapu-Lapu City.

“Na-shock mi (We were shocked),” said the guy who requested anonymity for security purposes.

Well, duh!

His company was supposed to take care of the medical wastes from the Chong Hua Hospital Mandaue Cancer Center, the University of Cebu Medical Center and the Dr. Ignacio M. Cortes Hospital.

You know, treating the wastes before disposing of these in the proper manner in the company’s facility in Barangay Umapad, Mandaue City. Not letting syringes, needles, vials containing blood samples and other whatnots float around the water that divides the Cebu mainland from Mactan Island.

Then I found out that yellow trash bags containing medical wastes, similar to those found in Barangay Ibo in Lapu-Lapu City, were also discovered along the banks of the Butuanon River in Mandaue.

John Quiamco, EMB 7 Solid Waste Management Monitoring Section chief, also said they discovered medical wastes on the coast of Mandaue City.

So okay, the agency had yet to confirm if the yellow trash bags came from the DCECI which, by the way, quickly denied ownership.

Either way, the company is now on the radar of Mandaue City officials.

City Administrator Danilo Almendras has ordered the City Licensing Office to tag DCECI in case it plans to renew its city permits.

I know certain sectors want to downplay this issue.

After all, many visitors are expected to flock to Cebu in the next few days to participate in various Sinulog-related festivities. These sectors certainly don’t want the visitors to get a bad impression during their visit.

Maybe these sectors want to show off Cebu’s religiosity, I don’t know. Maybe they’re proud of Cebu’s “robust” economy. Or maybe they just want Cebu to live up to its reputation of being home to beautiful women, delicious mangoes and pristine beaches, as long as these beaches do not border the Mactan Channel, that is.

Tourism stakeholders earlier described the matter when it first came out as an “isolated case.”

Well, guess what? It isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want tourists from South Korea and mainland China to tell their friends back home they encountered used adult diapers while traipsing along the shore.

But it doesn’t mean the issue should be swept under the rug.

That’s why I’m wondering why the EMB 7 is handling the DCECI with kid gloves. Trust me, the P250,000 fine that the agency imposed on the company is mere peanuts compared to what it earns for supposedly collecting, hauling, transporting, storing and treating medical wastes of several metro hospitals.

At least the Mandaue City Environment and Natural Resources Office wants the DCECI to stop operation for violating sanitation and waste disposal procedures.

Meanwhile, the company and its “na-shock mi” managing head have yet to issue an official statement.

So what are they waiting for?


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