The city’s garbage problems pile up, and as the Cebu City Government hurdles yet again another heap in this sordid saga, a hospital waste sideshow momentarily steals the limelight.
Medical waste was found in a private property in Barangay Inayawan, Cebu City, in the same barangay that now hosts a garbage transfer station in the erstwhile landfill.
Acting on a complaint, the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement (Probe), the Cebu Environmental Sanitation and Enforcement Team (Ceset), and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), inspected the property and found hospital waste—syringes, and intravenous needles.
The complaint pointed out a certain Ronald Abay-abay Villaver, who it turned out was a recurring name linked to similar reports earlier, as some councilors said. Cebu City Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr., committee on public services chair, said Villaver has earned some notoriety in many hospital rubbish clutter reports, one of those was the heap found near the premises of Pollution Abatement System Specialists Inc. (Passi), a firm specializing in the transport, disposal, storage of medical waste. Councilor Philip Zafra is more than relieved to have Villaver now in the limelight. “Finally, nakit-an ko na siya. Naghugaw-hugaw sad na siya’s Tisa,” said Zafra.
Probe Chief Raquel Arce said she had asked Villaver to disclose the hospital from where the stacks were sourced, but the latter was reported “uncooperative.”
Villaver, who must be slapped with the direst punishment there is for his act, is as accountable as the hospital that released the waste to him. In 2019, after medical waste was found in Lapu-Lapu City, the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) rejected the hospital’s appeal, which cited its contract with the garbage collection firm, saying the hospital “cannot seek refuge by invoking its memorandum of agreement to secure and submit the Manifest Forms, and Certificates of Treatment to this Office. Respondent should have monitored and made sure that (the firm) has indeed submitted the required documents to this Office, which the former has miserably failed to do.” Simply, it is still the hospital’s responsibility to see to it that its waste is properly disposed. The EMB imposed a penalty on the said hospital in the amount of P110,000.
Meanwhile, on Villaver’s case, the Cebu City Council will hold a special session on the matter, inviting over Cenro, the barangay officials of Inayawan, the Department of Public Services, the City Health Department, the Department of Health and, yes, Villaver himself.
We condemn Villaver’s act, not only in this recent case, but in all the clutter he had committed if the councilors’ complaints are true. There is utter obscenity and evil to be playing around with a potentially harmful waste, made worse in pandemic time.