A sea of garbage

Tempo - - News - Atty. Ig­na­cio R. Bunye Garbage dump­ing

THE re­cently con­cluded Transla­cion has es­tab­lished newer records of sorts – the long­est pro­ces­sion, the best at­tended, the most or­ga­nized, the least num­ber of in­jured per­sons re­ported.

In­evitably, how­ever, it also earned the un­en­vi­able record for the largest vol­ume of garbage gen­er­ated in a sin­gle pub­lic event.

Al­most a half day after the pro­ces­sion of­fi­cially ended, MMDA and even barangay bri­gades were still busy col­lect­ing garbage along the pro­ces­sion route caus­ing not a few so­cial me­dia com­men­ta­tors to re­fer to the an­nual re­li­gious event as Trash­la­cion.

The day after, com­ments in so­cial me­dia made for very in­ter­est­ing read­ing.

Ba­si­cally, com­men­ta­tors an­a­lyzed the rea­sons for our propen­sity to wan­tonly throw garbage, not just in events like the Transla­cion but even in or­di­nary out­door pub­lic gath­er­ings.

Here are a few com­ments which, to me, hit clos­est to home.

Ba­si­cally, we have be­come spoiled both at home and in school. In gen­eral, there is al­ways some­body at home, the kasam­ba­hay, who cleans up our mess. In school cafe­te­rias, some­body else usu­ally clears the ta­ble for us after we have left.

An­other com­men­ta­tor ex­plained it slightly dif­fer­ently.

In­side our own homes, we tend to be “garbage free”. The prob­lem, how­ever, be­gins as soon as we leave home.

Ei­ther way, the sit­u­a­tion ap­pears to boil down to a break­down in in­di­vid­ual and com­mu­nity dis­ci­pline. How do we re­store dis­ci­pline?

It is eas­ier said than done, but the text­book an­swer lies in the 3 E’s: E-duca­tion, E-nforce­ment and E-ngi­neer­ing. To these, I would add a fourth E: E-xam­ple.

There is no dearth of ma­te­ri­als on any and all of the fore­go­ing as­pects of solid waste man­age­ment. In fact, a com­pre­hen­sive plan based on solid waste man­age­ment best prac­tices is even avail­able off the shelf.

What is just needed is po­lit­i­cal will.

Read that as: E-xe­cu­tion.

To fur­ther com­pli­cate our prob­lems, we have had two episodes of garbage dump­ing orig­i­nat­ing from for­eign coun­tries.

6,500 tons of waste ma­te­ri­als, orig­i­nat­ing from South Ko­rea, some­how found their way into the Min­danao port in Misamis Ori­en­tal last year.

The ma­te­ri­als were de­clared as “soft plas­tic” for fur­ni­ture re­pro­cess­ing but turned out to be med­i­cal and elec­tronic waste.

The South Korean gov­ern­ment has since agreed to take back the trash.

Not so, in the the case of the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment.

Be­tween 2013 and 2014, pri­vate Cana­dian com­pa­nies shipped to the Philip­pines 103 con­tain­ers de­clared to con­tain scrap plas­tics for re­cy­cling.

The con­tain­ers turned out to be filled up with mu­nic­i­pal solid waste not fit for re­cy­cling.

Dur­ing the 31st Asean Sum­mit in Manila in Novem­ber 2017, Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau re­port­edly as­sured Pres­i­dent Duterte that Canada is work­ing on a so­lu­tion to the garbage dump­ing con­tro­versy.

Not much has been heard from Trudeau since.

For­mer Se­nate Pres­i­dent Aquilino Pi­mentel III rue­fully com­mented that the two in­ci­dents sadly re­flect how we are per­ceived abroad.

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