Managing solid waste

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As I went around Metro Manila over the holiday season, I could not help but notice the enormous piles of garbage that littered the streets. In places like Divisoria, Baclaran and Luneta, heaps of trash could be seen everywhere, even as citizens pass by doing their shopping or enjoying the holidays with their friends and loved ones.

“We can mobilize our communities to help clean our surroundings from time to time, so that our garbage problem will be manageable and not become out of control.

But while the local and national governments are both equipped and prepared to clean up the mess left by holiday-goers, it saddens me that we could have prevented all of this garbage from piling up had people been more disciplined in handling their wastes or more responsible in undertaking their activities.

The proper disposal, handling and management of waste is one of the foremost responsibilities not just of the government, but also of the rest of our citizenry. After all, if we do not take care of our trash, it will come back to affect our health and well-being — even our economy.

It is for this reason that the whole month of January is declared as Solid Waste Management Month. Apart from encouraging the proper management of solid wastes, the observance also promotes the designing and managing of products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the toxicity of waste and materials, to conserve and recover all resources and not to indiscriminately dispose or burn them.

When President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was mayor of Davao City, he directed the purchase of sturdy garbage bins that segregate solid wastes — black for non-biodegradable wastes and green for biodegradable wastes — because he saw that as the city grew, so did the garbage accumulate in the streets and the need to segregate wastes. With the help of our able and hard-working garbage collectors and street sweepers, we were able to maintain the cleanliness of Davao City.

But apart from the able response of the city government and city hall employees, we owe a lot of our success to our responsible and disciplined city residents. Sure, there will be impudent and lazy citizens throwing their trash anywhere every once in a while, but they are few and far between. I am proud to say that the vast majority of Davaoeños are responsible and conscientious citizens when it comes to disposing their garbage.

And whenever solid wastes in an area become overwhelming, clean-up drives are undertaken by private groups and the city to help a community solve its garbage problems in true bayanihan fashion. This synergy and cooperation between the citizenry and their government is what enabled Davao City, despite being the largest metropolis in the country, to effectively manage its garbage issues.

I believe that the same strategy can be applied in solving the garbage problems in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. We can put several large and visible garbage bins in strategic areas in our communities. We can educate our citizens, starting from the young, how to segregate and become more responsible in disposing their trash. We can also impose penalties on those who would violate laws, so we can use the funds to buy more trash bins, hire more garbage collectors and street sweepers or educate the public.

“If we do not take care of our trash, it will come back to affect our health and
well-being — even
our economy.

And lastly, we can mobilize our communities to help clean our surroundings from time to time, so that our garbage problem will be manageable and not become out of control. Truly, if we come together and cooperate, there is no problem that we cannot solve. But, most importantly, if we do not only think about ourselves and our convenience, but also become disciplined and responsible citizens who care about their community, our dream of a clean and green Metro Manila and Philippines can become a reality.

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Blast from the past: On 7 January 1901, Gen. Arthur MacArthur Jr., military governor of the Philippines, exiled several prominent politicians and leaders of the Philippine Revolution to the island of Guam.

Among those deported were Apolinario Mabini, who was considered the “Brains of the Revolution” and served as the chief adviser of President Emilio Aguinaldo; and Generals Artemio Ricarte, Pio del Pilar, Mariano Llanera and Maximino Hizon, as well as Pablo de Leon Ocampo, a lawyer and member of Malolos Congress.

After two years, many of those who were deported were allowed to return to the Philippines on the condition that they take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Weakened, stricken by disease and dying, Apolinario Mabini agreed while those like Artemio Ricarte refused. Ricarte was freed, but was not allowed to set foot in the Philippines. There are also other exiles who remained in Guam and became part of the local Filipino community.

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