Handling trash-2

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

I BELIEVE that all our city officials have been abroad many times, here and elsewhere so that what I am writing is not unknown to them, unless they observe other things than acquiring the knowledge they can bring home to benefit the city. In that case, they are as uninformed as many who have not learned from other advanced countries. Or perhaps learning they prefer the present state of affairs as personally beneficial and not how the way the streets are cleaned and garbage collected and disposed of efficiently.

Let’s take the street cleaners. The mechanized one has only one driver and can finish cleaning over a hundred kilometers of road in a day. Bacolod probably needs only two. The problem is that there would only be two operators and that means possibly only ten controlled voters. What the two machines can do, a hundred street sweepers will have to do, and not so well completed at that. Street cleaning by casuals is likely a political tool. Aside from their votes, the monthly collection from their wages provides financial support of Grupo Progreso. The loan sharks at the Government Center sanctioned it seems by Mayor Evelio Leonardia would likely oppose the employment of a mechanized street cleaner.

This thesis is not only for Bacolod but for other cities that also retained the antediluvian system for political purposes. Perhaps Leonardia who has been traveling abroad so many times can tell us why he has not employed the modern means of cleaning the city, although I don’t think he would explain. He is more entrenched politically now than ever and he does not need to explain to anyone. Voters like him the way he is and the city as it stands with its dirty streets. After all, citizens deserve the government they elect.

On the other hand, let it not be said that all citizens of the city like Bacolod as it is and will thus continue to speak lest silence be considered consent to what ails the city.

Let me paraphrase the case of a father and his son who were to be executed by the Nazis. The boy said, “Father I am afraid” and the man told the boy with a sense of regret, “Son, it would not have been this way if we were afraid before.” Indeed, people could have acted and prevented things to happen if they were afraid enough that things could happen. As the indecisive Hamlet woefully said, people, could have taken “up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.”

The mechanized street cleaners, however, are limited to the litters in the street. Household and other garbage are different altogether but the collection is systematic because people abide by the regulation about segregation. In our apartment, segregation is strictly enforced as in other houses and restaurants we had lunch or dinner and even in the library and museums. People who buy from the roving food vendors and eat at parks comply with the segregation of their trash, discarding them in specific containers or bins.

There is a schedule for collection of biodegradable and non-biodegradable. In one town in New Jersey, the bins are colored – blue and black. Perhaps this is the same in others though in our apartment the bins have black and white plastic bags for each kind of garbage. They are brought out on different days for collection by the city garbage compactor trucks.

Compliance by citizens is therefore important in garbage disposal and collection. We have the same laws and rules in the Philippines but why are they not enforced? Are public officials afraid or simply lazy? Of course, it is easy to blame the citizens for not complying with the law. The fact is that without enforcement folks take the easy side of life and segregating at home or outside are additional work and expense. To many households, those bags are not cheap. This problem, however, is not difficult to resolve if the city officials have a little desire (or brains, maybe?) to enforce the law.

Look at the IPM garbage truck or the tricycles of IPM. Blaring at their sides are the threats: no segregation, no collection. Fine but the contents are no segregated which means they collected the un-segregated garbage. So why would people comply when IPM is collecting mixed garbage just the same?

Let’s continue next week.