21 metric tons of garbage fished out of Guadalupe River

Jerra Mae Librea

AROUND 21,000 kilos of garbage were collected from the Guadalupe River during the first phase of the massive river cleanup conducted by the Cebu City Government on Saturday morning, Aug. 17, 2019.

While 5,000 Cebu City Hall employees were cleaning, the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CCenro) apprehended two residents who were about to dump their garbage in the river, said Ccenro head John Jigo Dacua.

Dacua said the two were issued citation tickets for violating Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and City Ordinances 1361 (anti-littering ordinance) and 2031 (no segregation, no collection of garbage).

The two must pay the fines within seven days. Failure to comply means Ccenro can file charges against them, he said.

Ccenro personnel also visited the houses of those already issued citation tickets after they were caught using the river as their personal trash cans or discharging their wastewater directly to the waterway.

The minimum penalty for violating the said law and ordinances is P1,000, Dacua said.

The garbage they collected on Saturday prompted Dacua to say that nearby residents have made the river “a landfill.”

“Grabi kahugaw. Dili mada. Makita gyud ang kakuwang sa disiplina sa mga taw namuyo kilid sa sapa (It’s so filthy. It’s apparent the people who live along the river have no discipline),” Dacua said.

To ensure the Guadalupe River and all other rivers in the city remain clean after the cleanup, Ccenro has formed a task force that will closely monitor major waterways.

With the creation of the Education, Reinforcement, Rehabilitation team, which has 17 members, Dacua hopes there will be fewer violators and nearby residents will also learn the importance of keeping their surrounding clean.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella monitored the activity, which started at 6 a.m. and ended around 10 a.m., by dropping by the nine stations.

Guadalupe River was divided into nine stations: Sandayong Bridge, Harlemeermeer Bridge, M. Velez Bridge, P. Del Rosario Bridge, Guadalupe River, Sancianco Bridge, Topas Bridge and Forbes Bridge in Barangay Pasil.

A garbage truck was on standby at each station.

With protruding pipes from households, Labella considered the areas around M. Velez and B. Rodriguez as the dirtiest.

In addition to the task force, Labella also ordered the City Legal Office to monitor violators of environmental laws.

Labella also sought the help of barangay captains, saying they are in the forefront since they are the ones who know their area of jurisdiction best.

The mayor said he will meet with barangay captains and Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) head Harold Alcontin on Tuesday, Aug. 20, to discuss and identify households that throw waste in rivers.

“We implore barangay officials that they really have a vigorous policy to prevent the return of the garbage... magtinabangay jud ta (let’s help each other),” Labella said.

The mayor urged barangay captains to strictly implement RA 9003, reminding them that the law covers cleaning and clearing waterways.

Barangay officials who do not strictly implement the law will receive notices and their names will be put on a list, he said.

Labella said the City has an administrative authority over barangay captains under the Local Government Code.

Meanwhile, Labella also considered putting up communal toilets, but the plan has to be evaluated and assessed first.

Saturday’s cleanup was only the first phase. Up next will be the Mahiga Creek, which overflowed during a heavy downpour last June 23.

One of Labella’s top priorities is to address the problem of flash floods. Another is to find a solution to the garbage problem during his first 100 days in office.