THE discovery of medical waste floating in the sea off Barangay Ibo in Lapu-Lapu City and the subsequent investigation conducted on the two medical facilities that were the source of the waste has exposed a problem that local government units and even the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) refused to deal with directly for a while now.
Communities generate waste; the bigger and more economically advanced the community, the bigger and more varied the waste. In areas like Metro Cebu, waste is generated from many sources: from residences (residential waste), industries (industrial waste), from hospitals and other medical facilities (medical waste) and even from technological advance (e-waste).
The hospitals in Mandaue City that generated the medical waste found in Barangay Ibo outsourced the disposal of the said waste to a firm called the Davao City Environmental Care Inc. (DCECI). The service of DCECI apparently left much to be desired. In response, the Mandaue City Government issued a cease-and-desist order against the firm for supposedly violating Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990) and Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000).
That in turn raises the question: Who collects the hospital waste now and how and where would the waste be disposed? Seeking the answer to that question exposes the weaknesses of solid waste management of the local government units in Metro Cebu and, to a certain extent, the failure of the environment department to provide them with the proper guidance based on environmental laws.
Since it is the problem that surfaced now, the disposal of medical waste should be solved immediately. Which means that the action should not stop at the cease-and-desist order level against DCECI but must go beyond that: meaning all concerned local government units, the environment department and even private and public medical facilities working together to come up with a solution.
After that, the bigger problem of urban waste disposal should finally be given the attention it deserves.