AT the New Mandaue Public Market, Eric Estrera carried with him plastic bags containing a few kilos of fish.
Soon, he may have to find an alternative way to bring these home after the Mandaue City Government announced stricter implementation of City Ordinance 12-2010-562 or the Plastic Bag Prohibition Ordinance, an order that has been met with a mix of support and opposition.
For fish vendor Lourdes Arong, the complete ban on plastics is discouraging to vendors and their buyers. She said fish and meat products should be exempted from the ban since such goods require the use of plastics.
“Daghan kaayo nang reklamo namo nga mga customers aning plastic ban (So many customers have complained about this plastic ban),” Arong told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.
To pacify them, Arong advised her customers to bring with them a bucket when shopping for fish so vendors like her will no longer have to provide plastic bags.
Just this week, the City Government started issuing citations and penalties to violators of the plastic ban ordinance in the hope of minimizing the flooding in the city. Vendors and big establishments will be fined P500 for each violation, or face five days’ imprisonment, if they continue to use plastic.
Jennifer Augusto, also a fish vendor in Mandaue, cannot think of another affordable alternative to plastics. While sacks could be a replacement, she said these are more expensive and would mean added cost to them and to their customers.
Fish vendors in Mandaue City have stocks of plastics good for the next few months, they said. These vendors asked for a longer extension of the plastic ban so they can use up their inventory.
Estrera, meanwhile, suggested that plastics be allowed for certain goods. As for fish, he said vendors might use only one plastic to hold it. Yesterday, he said fish vendors normally wrap the fish in two plastic bags.
For Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) past president Phillip Tan, it is the irresponsible use of plastics, not the plastic itself, that has caused flooding in the city.
“Nganong pakasad-on man nato ang plastic nga wa man na silay sala. Ang irresponsible use sa plastic ang nakaingon sa baha (Why blame it on plastic? It is the irresponsible use of these plastic items that has caused the flooding),” Tan said.
MCCI president Glenn Anthony Soco acknowledged that the indiscriminate throwing of garbage and the inadequate infrastructure have led to the city’s flooding problems.
“We will continue to hold consultations and dialogues within the business sector and possibly come up with more effective solutions that we can work with the LGU and all sectors, considering that flooding affects us all,” Soco said in a text message.
Although he understands the motives of Mayor Luigi Quisumbing, Tan emphasized that the ordinance needs to be “fine-tuned” since there are goods that utilize plastic.
In addition, the businessman said there are already biogredable plastic bags that Mandauehanons can use.
As for its effect on business, Soco said the ordinance will not translate to economic losses on the part of the traders.
“Maybe to some extent, the manufacturers. We have some businessmen who expressed their opinions and views about the matter as an alternative to the ban on plastics, but the effects of which remains to be seen. In my opinion, businessmen will always find creative ways to deal with the situation,” he added.
In the past days, the chamber has been in constant talks with the City Government to propose alternatives to plastic, but Soco declined to disclose further details, saying it is still premature to discuss the matter.
For Tan, what needs to be done is instill discipline, which might take more time.
“(This is) going back to discipline. We need laws. Wala man na’y sala ang plastic pero kay magpataka man ta og labay, maong nabuhatan og balaod (The plastic has not done any harm, but we don’t know how to dispose of it, so an ordinance was created,” he said.
“It (plastic ban) may not be the best solution, but it is still a solution,” said Soco.
Quisumbing earlier said that the garbage situation in Mandaue City is already in near critical levels.