Wenceslao: Trash management

Candid thoughts

NO, THE trash in the title of this column is not meant to disparage a management style. The focus here is garbage disposal in relation, again, to Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Solid waste management has become the issue again after the Cebu City Government canceled its contract with a landfill developer operating in Barangay Binaliw.

Under the previous Cebu City mayor, Tomas Osmeña, the recurring issue was the continued use of the Inayawan sanitary landfill even if the facility had deteriorated into a mere open dump site, inviting all the complaints surrounding residents usually raise in open dump site operations. Now under Labella, it is the Binaliw dump site that has become an issue.

But back to RA 9003, whose faithful implementation would have been key in solving solid waste disposal problems of local government units. Why local government officials prefer to veer away from the provisions of the law and thus solve their trash woes is therefore beyond me.

So let me focus on that in my next few columns. But first a clarification. I would approach this topic as a layman and won’t be legalistic or technical about it because I am no expert of the law or even of many environmental concerns.

First, let us tackle collective decision-making, an important point in good solid waste management but is not being practiced by executive-centric style of governance. Consider that the thrust of the law is to adopt a “systematic, comprehensive and ecological” solid waste management program. Collective decision-making fosters a “systematic” program.

The law refers to as “institutional mechanisms” the bodies that should have already been created to focus on the management of solid waste in the entire country. It calls for the establishment of such mechanisms both at the national and local levels. I won’t discuss the national mechanisms (like the National Solid Waste Management Commission) considering my competence (or should I say incompetence) on the matter.

Section 11 provides for the creation of the Provincial Solid Waste Management Board, in the case of provincial governments, while Section 12 provides for the creation of the City or Municipal Solid Waste Management Boards in the case of city or municipal governments.

These boards have as members not only local government officials (including health and/or general services officers, environment and natural resources officers, whichever may be recommended by the local government’s chief executive, plus the government engineer) but also congressional representatives from each congressional district within the local government jurisdiction, and representatives from nongovernment organizations (“to promote recycling and the protection of air and water quality”), the recycling industry; the manufacturing or packaging industry and government agencies possessing relevant technical and marketing expertise (as may be determined by the board).

Do local governments have this kind of solid waste management decision-making body now?


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