Wenceslao: Again, trash

Candid Thoughts

YEARS ago, local government executives frowned on the Metro Cebu Development Authority initiative of Rep. Raul del Mar. Tomas Osmeña’s main objection was the lack of a bigger role of the Cebu City mayor in the body. Other Metro Cebu mayors, on the other hand, worried that with the Authority, their jurisdictions would become mere accessories to Cebu City, like becoming the dumping area of the city’s trash.

Osmeña is no longer in City Hall after he lost to Edgardo Labella in the recent elections and the rest of Metro Cebu is led by executives who were not in power when Osmeña ruled Cebu City. Del Mar is still around but his dream of creating a viable Metro Cebu body has remained just that- a dream. Therein lies the problem, as Cebu City and the rest of Metro Cebu grapple with the problem of managing the disposal of their mounting solid waste.

During the campaign, Labella already outlined his solid waste management policy, which is to no longer allow the operation of sanitary landfills in his jurisdiction. Which means that the city’s trash would be processed and whatever remains would be disposed to landfills outside the city. Which is precisely what the Osmeña-era Metro Cebu government execs feared when the Metro Cebu body was proposed. Would Labella’s policy work if executives of local government units outside the city resisted it?

I say the aversion to the operation of sanitary landfills is rooted in the experience of the operation in the past of such facilities, including that in Inayawan in Cebu City. Governments and landfill operators made such a mess of it everybody now sees only the negative aspects of landfill operations. Solid waste mismanagement is the root of the problem.

My wife is from Inayawan so I know how much the residents there suffered from the landfill operation that became a mess in the latter years. Because that mess, the result of politicking, incompetence and corrupt practices, was well-chronicled by the media, some misimpressions eventually surfaced. I say nobody wants to have a part in the establishment of sanitary landfills.

Had governments handled the operation of sanitary landfills well, there would never have been a reason to fear operating one. As I have written before, the law that was enacted regarding solid waste disposal, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, does not lack guidance on how to properly dispose of solid waste. It’s just that local government officials, for one reason or another, insist on looking the other way.

The Inayawan landfill ended up becoming an open dumpsite because it already outlived its usefulness. Thus, the residents in areas near the landfill suffered much. Meanwhile, the rules on the transport of trash was largely not followed, catching the ire of people living on the sides of the road where garbage trucks pass.

My point is local government executives should not be averse to the operation of sanitary landfills. With the law as guide, one can never go wrong. That’s precisely why the law was crafted that way.


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