Roxas Boulevard trash flooding a grim reminder of lessons not learnedBy Jamie Marie Elona
MANILA, Philippines – We never learn.
A waste and pollution watchdog deplored Thursday that the mountains of garbage swept onto the Baywalk area along Roxas Boulevard in Manila Wednesday by a storm surge were proof that despite people’s unforgettable experience from Typhoon Ondoy, the community is still in the process of learning proper garbage disposal.
EcoWaste Coalition said many Filipinos—from all walks of life—have yet to unlearn the bad habit of indiscriminate trash disposal.
“The sea sent back the garbage from the land as if telling off pigheaded people that whatever you throw will return to you,” Edwin Alejo, EcoWaste Coalition coordinator said.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Attorney Francis Tolentino said 48 garbage trucks have been collected from Roxas Boulevard after Wednesday’s water surge.
In an ocular inspection, MMDA crewmen said the “carpet” of garbage were a mix of “plastic bags and scraps, food wrappers, polystyrene materials, slippers, cigarette butts, plant and wood discards,” among other items.
“Discarded plastic bottles and other recyclable plastics and tin containers were quick to disappear from the piles as enterprising waste pickers collect and even fish them out of the sea with their improvised net trap,” the group noted.
EcoWaste cited statistics from the National Solid Waste Management Commission which says that of the 35,000 tons of waste the whole country produces each day, 8,400 tons are from Metro Manila.
“Improper waste disposal . . . is a threat to human health and the environment. . . It’s a precursor for other societal problems such as poor hygiene and sanitation, infectious diseases, chemical exposures, contamination of surface and ground waters, marine pollution, bleak tourism and even economic losses,” Alejo said.
What went wrong?
As to structural matters of Manila Bay’s seawall, Arman Andres, head of Manila City Hall’s City Engineering Office, said “in my opinion, nothing’s wrong with the construction of the seawall [particularly] with the height.”
He went on to say that the seawall’s previous height has already been raised by 16 inches.
“The waves (around 20 to 35 feet high) that hit were really large, reaching as high as the coconut tree,” he said.
“It’s foolish to build a seawall as high as the coconut tree,” Andres said, as he explained that the height of the seawall was based on the changes of tide.
As to Tolentino’s proposal for a “double-layered seawall,” Andres said the designs bureau has yet to complete their study on the proposal as disadvantages are being taken into consideration, such as water might get trapped and become stinky.
Tolentino earlier said the proposed seawall design would “enhance public safety and address environmental concerns,” and would be “the first layer of defense from strong waves coming from Manila Bay during storms and other natural disasters.”
In reaction to claims that Wednesday’s fortuitous event was aggravated by reclamation projects along the bay, Andres said “no reclamation project is being conducted as of the moment.”