SOME problems are so big, they cannot possibly be solved immediately with one plan of action. Such is the problem of garbage and pollution in relation to the move to clean up Manila Bay and in relation further to the worldwide problem of plastics overwhelming landfills and now being dumped in the world’s oceans.
We must welcome every move to solve even just a small part of the problem, with the hope that it will inspire others to make their own contributions of their own.
New Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso has made cleaning up Manila a major part of his program for the city, partly because, he said, he once worked as a garbage collector and thus has intimate knowledge of the problem.
Last week, he began with one area close to Manila City Hall – the site of the Andres Bonifacio Shrine, with a monument of the national hero, bolo drawn in revolutionary defiance, as seen from the many principal streets converging at the site from north and south of the city.
The mayor almost stepped on human feces when he went to inspect the site, which was swarming with informal settlers – “squatters” – and vendors tending hundreds of makeshift stalls. He has now ordered the area cleared. The mayor and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu also inspected Estero de San Antonio Abad in Malate, now cleared of squatter families who will be resettled in housing provided by the DENR and provided with some financial assistance to start a small livelihood.
There are hundreds of rivers and esteros pouring filth into Manila Bay. Since the start of the DENR effort to clean up the bay, the towns and cities on its shores have been ordered to stop this pollution coming from their areas. In Manila, the Manila Zoo has now installed its own septic treatment plant (STP), where it had none before. The Ospital ng Maynila will now also have its own STP.
Plastics are another facet of the problem, with the Philippines pinpointed as one of the major sources of plastic wastes in the world today. A study by the Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives found that Filipinos use 48 million shopping bags daily, plus 17 billion plastic products of various kinds.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan has now filed Senate Bill 40, the “Single-Use Plastics Regulation and Management Act of 2029,” which seeks to ban the importation, manufacture, and use of single-use plastics, such as stirrers and soft drinks straws commonly used in eateries of all kinds, and sachets used for pills and other medicine.
We welcome all these developments and hope that they will move others – business enterprises, public institutions, government officials, and ordinary individuals – to do what they can on the problem of garbage and pollution that has grown to such immense proportions that they now threaten all life on our earth, including our own.