CHANGE: First 100 Days (2) – A Focus on Solid Waste Management
Part 2 of 10: Days 11 to 20 – Rolling Our Sleeves For the Real Work – Identifying Newer, More Cost-Effective and Efficient Solutions to Address Solid Waste Management
The word CHANGE has become a cliche these days. It has become an overused and misunderstood political slogan for decades. A political challenger uses the word against a ruling power to emphasize the need for change in rulers. Because of what the word has become effective for political campaigns – it has become a brand, a theme, a by-word. Sadly many do not understand CHANGE as a sytemic process. Change not in the sense of simply changing rulers but changing mindsets, processes, systems, strategies, techniques that do not work or no longer work. Or ways that have become obsolete irrelevant, unresponsive to the actual needs and problems today. The word CHANGE has become so political – it has become a mere word.
In Bacolod, the whole city is crying for systemic change. Thousands of citizens do not know exactly what to ask but everyone knows many things need to change. The cry, the aspirations, the sentiments for improvements, for new directions, new strategies have been drowned out by too much political noise. But I am thankful, I had the opportunity to revisit many communities and listened to some. I may have lost the elections in numbers, but my mental database have been enriched with more understanding of the problems in the communities. And just like when I lost for the first time in 2001 as a councilor, I considered the experience as God’s way of opening my heart, making me understand why I need to join public service.
In this backdrop, I resume to write the second part of my First 100 Days Towards Change. Having walked the path again these past 7 months, I wish to pay tribute to all those who journeyed with me by writing down my thoughts as to how I would have effected change. It is my prayer that these becomes a useful material for new leaders.
Part 1 was my first ten days if I was elected in office. Here is my idea of my Days 11 to 20 – devoted to general cleaning.
One important area that needs serious change is in the aspect of solid waste management. The traditional garbage collection and dumping should no longer be the only solutions. Given the chance, my next ten days in office could have been focused in setting changes for this aspect.
Day 11 and 12 – Form the Solid Waste Management Audit Team to conduct a thorough audit of the solid waste management program of the city in order to immediately resolve apparent lack of action for all uncollected garbage, identifying immediate, short term and long term solutions). The city spends almost half a billion pesos a year these past years in SWM and yet there remains so many unresolved issues like inefficient collection, a disconnect between the mandatory segregation at source and the final dumping process.
During the campaign, I have paid the Felisa Landfill (which still appears to be an open dumpsite, and sadly so many are comfortable of referring to the same as a dumpsite when under Republic Act No. 9003, open and even controlled dumpsites were already prohibited startiung 2005. The area appears to host mixed waste. Sadly sorrounding the are as scavengers trying to make a decent living but without any facility to actually sort the garbage. I pity the scavengers and even the “junkers” who are prey to those who want to make money out of them still, despite the very measly value of a full day work. I can still remember the tears of one scavengers sharing her story.
Day 13 and 14 – The SWM Team shall immediately convene concerned Bacolodnons who are expert in the various fields related SWM, especially in specific aspects like hazardous or toxic wastes, recyclables, hospital wastes, food wastes, industrial and agricultural waste, and other aspects to identify and consolidated strategies to create a holistic approach to address the SWM problem of Bacolod on a short term and long term or sustainable basis considering the most cost-effective and efficient means. My dream is to see the Felisa dumpsite become a fully-compliant landfill and beside it shall stand a state-of-the-art city-wide materials recovery facility (MRF). I have promised the scavengers a better life – because they will be an important part of the mission of saving Bacolod from being engulfed with garbage.
Day 15 and 16 – The SWM Team shall meet with all the barangays in Bacolod to identify and consolidate all strategies and mechanisms as to how the city can partner with the barangays to achieve its SWM targets and how the city can empower the barangays in terms of resources.
Day 17 and 18 – The SWM Team shall present their findings, initialy strategies and reommendations. The DENR and other agencies must be part of the team and the panel to evaluate all the strategies. There has to be more emphasis on segregation at source by creating ways to incentivize compliance, seriously designing recycling and upcycling programs and conversion of waste to useful items to approximate the global call for zero waste. In the coming months, I shall make way for discussions about alternative and creative schemes.
Day 19 and 20 – The final output of the SWM Team shall be presented to policymakers, public officials and various agencies and most all the citizens or Bacolod who will become part and parcel of the vision for an integrated approach to SWM in Bacolod. Clear and specific timelines and success indicators shall be put in place.
CHANGE is not just about changing people. It is about changing mindsets and systems. We only have one city, one Earth. We have no right to destroy it. If we understand our mission, we know we can do it.
Here is a link to my privilege speech 11 years ago as a city councilor – concerning this matter for reference: https://jocellebatapasigue.com/2019/01/31/speaking-as-councilor-and-counsel-for-the-earth/