Garbage in, garbage out

Rene U. Borromeo (The Freeman) - January 21, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Mayor Michael Rama wants the entire Cebu City to be always clean, which is why he bought dozens of additional garbage trucks.

But the city's former garbage czar said the more than 150 garbage trucks will not solve the garbage problem if the public will not cooperate.

"Ang problema gud diha kay ang mga tawo magsige man gihapon og panglabay sa ilang mga basura daplin sa karsada bisan og lapas na sa oras nga tingkuha sa ilang mga sagbot mao nga kanunay'ng anaa g'yuy basura nga makita sa daplin sa mga karsada," said Engr. Dionesio Gualiza, former head of the Department of Public Services (DPS).

Gualiza was replaced by former General Service Office (GSO) head Rolando Ardoza, while Gualiza took over the post that Ardosa left.

Public participation

The City Hall's customer service section received several complaints from the public about uncollected garbage in different parts of the city that is why many persons believed that the DPS personnel are not doing their job well considering that the city already has over 50 garbage trucks for garbage collection and transportation to the landfill.

 Even Labangon Barangay Captain Victor Buendia filed a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas against the DPS for failing to collect garbage in his barangay.

  But Gualiza explained that the DPS had set up a schedule of collection of garbage in different parts of the city to make the garbage collection more effective. The residents have been requested to bring their garbage out of their house not later than 7 o'clock in the morning or in the evening and not to just dump them by the roadside.

 "Mga gahi g'yud og ulo mao na nga bisan nahakut na ang mga basura anaa makakita ka gihapon og mga basura nga nagtapok daplin sa karsada kay sige man gihapon sila og panglabay sa ilang mga sagbot," Gualiza explained.

Ardoza, meanwhile, said he will ask the public to cooperate with the DPS by not dumping their garbage along the streets before the arrival of the garbage trucks or after the garbage in their areas had been collected.

"Kinahanglang huwaton na 'sab nila ang sunod nga schedule sa pagkuha sa mga basura usa nila ipagawas ang ilang mga sagbot," Ardoza said. But for those stubborn city residents, Ardoza said he will apply the full force of the law against them.

 DPS personnel collect about 300 to 400 tons of garbage from all over the city daily. Most of the garbage they collect are not properly segregated as provided for by the law under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

 The law provides that garbage segregation, separating biodegradable from non-biodegradable wastes, must start from the source – households and business establishments. Garbage that has not been segregated, the law adds, should not be collected.

Section 21 of  Republic Act 9003 provides mandatory segregation of wastes, including household garbage, industrial, institutional, commercial and agricultural sources.

The public is required to have a separate container for each type of waste like biodegradable, non-biodegradable and recyclable, even special wastes, to facilitate efficient storing of sorted wastes while in transit.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act also strictly prohibits the littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places, such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks and other similar public places.

It is also illegal for anybody to burn solid waste, although there are still people who do this. The burying of garbage in flood-prone areas is also strictly not allowed.

Violators of the law shall be fined from P300 up to P1 million, depending on the gravity of the offense.

 The city has hired Barangay Environmental Officers or BEOs, whose main task is to apprehend violators of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. This, however, has not been strictly implemented, which is why there are still a lot of people who do not segregate their garbage.

 "Kun dili g'yud sila mopatoo nga dili magpataka'g labay sa ilang mga basura mapugos g'yud ta sa pagpamulta sa mga violators," Ardoza said.

 But for Luzminda, a resident of Tres de Abril in Barangay Labangon, who was caught by this writer while dumping garbage along the road, the DPS should put up garbage bins in different areas of the city.

 "Usahay gud dili man sila makapik-ap kanunay sa among mga basura. Ang-ang man 'sab og tipigan lang g'yud namo ang basura didto sa balay, mabaho mi," she explained.

Because the DPS continues to collect garbage that has not been segregated, they still have to bring whatever they collect to the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill for segregation before bringing these to private landfill in Consolacion where the city has been dumping garbage since the closure of the Inayawan landfill.

The record shows that DPS has 615 personnel, but they are assigned to five different divisions such as administrative, street cleaning, garbage collection, streetlighting and artesian wells services.

 Gualiza said 502 personnel are assigned as street sweepers and garbage collectors while the rest are detailed with the three other divisions.

From January to October of last year, the DPS garbage trucks, including those garbage trucks of the barangays, had transported 46,364 tons of garbage to the private landfill in Barangay Polog, Consolacion.

 Garbage trucks from different barangays had transported 33,420 tons of garbage while the DPS trucks only hauled 12,943. It shows that garbage trucks of the barangays had made 7,330 trips to the landfill from January to October, while the DPS trucks only made 2,477 trips.

 According to Gualiza the barangay garbage trucks transported more garbage to the landfill than those of the DPS because the Cebu City barangays own about 120 garbage trucks. These garbage trucks are getting fuel allocation from the city.

 City Hall is also giving additional honorarium to barangay garbage collectors for them to be encouraged to work hard to clean their respective barangays.

 The city is paying P700 for every ton of garbage that will be brought to the private landfill in Consolacion because Mayor Rama had already closed the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill after its 15-year lifetime had lapsed.

While Rama wants a landfill within the city, barangay officials would not allow the establishment of one in their respective barangays for fear that the foul odor might affect the barangay and garbage within the vicinity might bring diseases.

Another problem in the city is the throwing of garbage in creeks, rivers and seas.

Pedro Cuizon of the Coastal Management Board (CMB) said that despite their quarterly clean-up of creeks and shorelines of Cebu City, there are still garbage days after the clean-up campaign.

Local government officials are tasked to strictly implement the law and penalize violators. Citizens who feel that their local government unit is not doing its job can file a case against the LGU. To encourage the public to do their job as citizens, the court filing fee is even waived.—/QSB (FREEMAN)


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