STRIKE HOME| Dump probes hue close to anti-graft drive

DEPUTY Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera did not say it but I would be the least surprised if his office’ ongoing probe on at least 50 open dumpsites in the country would turn out to be an indirect investigation on how corruption has overtaken waste management at the LGU levels.

This is because in a manner of saying, a good number of LGUS any which way you go in the archipelago had taken the mantra may pera sa basura literally.

As Mosquera himself had hinted at, there was indication that some LGUs in Metro Manila were intent on hauling their solid wastes outside their jurisdiction because of perceived cuts from the contractors.

“Of course, we have to have evidence first although it is a direction we will pursue,” he told reporters.

One local government unit that has been allocating more than P100 million annually for the shipping out of its garbage to Tarlac is the city of Baguio.

The city went into hauling in the aftermath of the 2011 trash-slide when its Irisan dumpsite burst like a bubble at the height of a storm, the accumulated thousands of tons of mixed garbage cascading down slope and burying several houses in the process that killed five people.

Despite this, the city continued to use the dumpsite while the DENR was only content to watch at the sideline. It took a Writ of Kalikasan order from the Supreme Court for the city to stop.

But instead of getting the cue from there by developing its own sanitary landfill as required by law, the city simply decided to ship its mixed garbage to Tarlac since 2012. It would be interesting to know what the Ombudsman spadework will churn out in the days ahead.

What Mosquera found as odd was that while Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Act has been in circulation since 2011, most LGU execs chose to swipe it aside and instead insisted on simply dumping their mixed solid wastes in some corner. What the eyes don’t see, the heart cannot be sorry for?

To Mosquera, this is plain and simple gross neglect of duty and if proven will net the guilty the penalty of perpetual disqualification from office. Let the axe fall on the guilty.

I think one factor that has prevented some LGUs from implementing the law in so far as waste management is concerned is their tendency to look for short-cut solutions in a bid to evade the segregation-recycling-composting-reusing mandate of 9003. I knew of several LGUs who have also flirted with so-called ‘waste to energy’ technologies but ended up having nothing to show for the all the publicity that accompanied their so-called ‘negotiations’ with providers.

The wonderful aspect of 9003 is that it involves the community itself and calls on the barangays to take the lead with the municipality or the city government providing the means or support. Its ‘segregation-at-source’ mantra calls for grassroots support at the household level itself.

But while LGUs looked poised in implementing the law, the tendency always has been to backslide, probably because nobody has been put in prison in the first place because of non-implementation. In time, people also tended not to notice, for so long as the garbage has taken cared off. Out of sight, out of mind.

Like any stop-gap remedy, hauling of garbage has never been the solution as it merely transfers the dirt from one backyard to another. In the end, Mother Earth still suffers. (JKL)

Posted in Opinion