Briones: Public apathy

Publio Briones

“IF ONLY there was enough equipment that we used during the cleanup, I’m sure the collected garbage would have been larger than that number.”

That was the lament of Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) officer-in-charge John Jigo Dacua after the Cebu City Government and the Talisay City Government joined forces to try and revive the 11-kilometer Bulacao River, which was declared biologically dead last January. That means it can no longer sustain any form of life, such as fish and aquatic plants.

On Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, the two local government units, with the help of volunteers, conducted a three-hour massive cleanup of the waterway and collected 11.6 tons of garbage.

According to Dacua, “it was a challenge for the volunteers to clean the river manually, especially downstream in Barangay Inayawan, Cebu City, where most of the garbage sat stagnant.”

They used two backhoe loaders that Cenro borrowed from the Department of Engineering and Public Works, but Dacua admitted that these weren’t enough.

But despite this setback, he assured that his office’s education, reinforcement and rehabilitation team would continue to clean portions of the river.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said that once all the city’s 80 barangays can acquire their own garbage trucks, which they can purchase with the P5 million assistance from the City Government, he will give village chiefs a timetable to clean their areas.

Village chiefs risk facing administration sanctions if they fail to meet the deadline.

Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr., for his part, said he wants the penal provision of City Ordinance 2007-03, or the Comprehensive Waste Management System of the City of Talisay, amended to include a fine for as early as the first offense.

I guess this should prevent the community from throwing their garbage directly into the river.

He shared the Department of Public Works and Highways’ plans to install a fence on all bridges to stop the people from dumping their trash in the waterway.

“We constantly hold cleanup activities, but every time we clean again, we can still collect a lot of garbage. It needs our full force effort, not only the government, but everyone should be working hand in hand,” Gullas said.

When he assumed office last July, he issued an executive order for a weekly drainage cleanup, monthly river cleanup and quarterly coastal cleaup.

He said it was important to show the public that the City Government was willing to clean the city.

I applaud the efforts of Labella and Gullas, knowing full well the daunting task they are faced with.

Their problem is not the garbage, but the people who generate and discard it. They are aware of the repercussions of their actions, yet they continue to treat their surroundings like their personal dumpsites.

Well, that has to stop. Members of the public need to change their mindset.

I thought the water shortage or the threat of diseases not to mention the stench would convince them to do so, but I guess the majority of them just don’t care.