Wenceslao: It’s in the law

Candid Thoughts

I HAVE articulated a number of times my stand on the garbage issue. I have always been critical of the practice by the Cebu City Government of throwing the city’s garbage in sanitary landfills located outside its jurisdiction. For one, the City having its own sanitary landfill would be cheaper in the long run. Especially if provisions of the law are strictly followed.

Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 is fairly instructive on the matter. I am not a lawyer, but the law is so comprehensive it touches everything about solid waste management and disposal--meaning, it is an interesting read. Or should I say a learning experience. Why local government officials refuse to use it as a guide in crafting a sane solid waste management program is beyond me.

There are Sections 11 and 12, for example, that provide for the creation by each local government unit of their own solid waste management board. The board is composed of concerned local government officials together with congressional representatives and representatives from concerned non-government organizations, and even from the recycling and packaging industries.

The purpose there is obvious. Solid waste management is such a serious undertaking it can’t be left to local chief executives alone. It has to be a collective undertaking because, to use a cliche, two heads (or more) are better than one.

Every step in the process of solid waste disposal is outlined by the law, from the laying down of a solid waste management plan to waste characterization, collection and processing and the all important source reduction and composting. If the provisions of the law are followed, local government officials should not worry about operating their own sanitary landfills.

The problem with the operation of the Inayawan landfill of old is that past Cebu City administrations never followed much of the provisions of RA 9003, preferring old practices of collection and disposal and failing to provide adequate resources for modern solid waste management and to plan ahead the construction of a new sanitary landfill before the facility in Inayawan would fill up and become a mere open dumpsite.

The Inayawan experience has made other barangay officials wary of allowing the construction of another sanitary landfill in their vicinity. But the fault was not in the landfill construction but in the proper handling of its operation.

Consider the transport of solid waste, the haphazard handling of which has been the source of numerous complaints. But Section 23 (c) of the law states: Collection of solid waste shall be done in a manner which prevents damage to the container and spillage or scattering of solid waste within the collection vicinity. And Section 24 details the manner of transporting of solid waste and even the design of garbage trucks.

Need I say more? My advice to local chief executives: read the law (RA 9003). If I find it interesting, so should all of you. Unless, of course, you have another agenda.


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