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WAITING FOR TRASH. Scavengers wait as a truck dumps garbage at the city sanitary landfill in Upper Dagong, Barangay Carmen. City hall would close the open dumpsite and develop a new one in Pagalungan. (GSD File PHOTO BY NITZ ARANCON)

Politics of waste segregation

Ike Señeres .

WITHOUT pointing fingers, I would dare to say that there are many municipalities in this country where waste segregation could not work or is not working, simply because the mayors in those municipalities are making money from the hauling fees of garbage trucks and the commissions from the tipping fees that are paid by the operators of the dumpsites where the garbage are dumped.

Before discussing further however, I would like to insert my argument that all towns and cities should be classified as municipalities, no matter what their charters say. To add to that, I would say that there is no shame for a city to be referred to as a municipality, in much the same way that there is no shame in referring to city halls as “municipios”. It is just a matter of terminology really, but if terminologies are really that important, then those mayors should know the difference between solid wastes and recyclables, and also between dumpsites and landfills.

Not that I pay too much attention to semantics, but for all intents and purposes, waste segregation is really the process that leads to waste recycling. In other words, segregation should really be the means to an end. Perhaps that would be easy to understand, and if that is so, it should also be easy to understand that most solid wastes would not become garbage if only segregation is done as a means to recycling, the latter being the desired ultimate result. Again more semantics, because technically speaking, all recyclables are not garbage. The best way to explain that is to say that all recyclables have value but most garbage have no value. In theory, if only most solid wastes could be segregated, more recyclables could be extracted and in doing so, lesser waste materials would be dumped into the dumpsites. In reality however, nothing else should be left after proper segregation, except hazardous materials perhaps. Also as it is supposed to be, dumpsites are supposed to be illegal, and only proper landfills are legal.

What is the use of passing laws if these could not be implemented? I heard some skeptics saying that our laws are just as good as decorations, and we might as well frame those laws and put them up our walls. Some would even say that our laws are just suggestions, and therefore nobody should take these seriously. Worst of all, some are even saying that we pass these laws so that we would know which could be broken. I must admit that I disagree with all these negative perceptions, because up to now, I am still hoping that somehow, we could still muster the strength to implement our laws, starting with our environmental laws, and by that, I mean the political will to do so. Speaking of environmental laws, allow me to draw your attention to the fact that the closure of Boracay should not have happened if only the laws pertaining to the installation of Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) were implemented. While we may all be alarmed by what happened there, let us not be surprised to know that apparently, many resorts and hotels all over the country also do not have STPs, and now we know what that does to our oceans.

It is interesting to note that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now planning to sue the Municipality of Malay, Aklan supposedly for negligence or the violation of environment laws, as the case may be. But should that really be the case? Since there are three barangays in Boracay, should they not be sued too? I hate to spark a finger pointing exercise amidst this issue, but shouldn’t the resorts and hotels also be sued for their failure to install their STPs? If that is so, shouldn’t the DENR be the one sued for not implementing the STP laws in Boracay? What is the worst thing that could come out of this fiasco is for the DENR and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to sue each other for their own respective failures. And while the attention of the press is focused on the STPs, has anyone bothered to check whether or not the three barangays in Boracay actually have Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) as required by our laws?

In reality, landfills would not even be needed if only our barangays would build MRFs as they are supposed to do. In theory, most of the solid wastes coming out of our commercial and residential locations could be segregated so that the recyclables could be recovered, and that is why they are called MRFs. If only segregation is done properly, only the hazardous wastes would need to be hauled out using garbage trucks. That seems to be the perfect picture as far as I could imagine it, but there is something wrong with that picture, because if lesser trucks would go to the landfills, the lesser money it would be for these supposedly corrupted mayors. For good measure, it seems to be the best time now for both the DENR and the DILG to start suing not only Malay, Aklan but also all barangays that do not have MRFs, and also all municipalities that up to now are not implementing waste segregation laws. Aside from saying reuse and recycle, we should also ask some of these barangay officials to repent and reform.

 

E-mail: iseneres@yahoo.com

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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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