Ignis fatuus

NEWS report of August 27 said that Bacolod Councilor Caesar Distrito urged the City Legal Office to file charges against those people who illegally dumped the garbage in the middle of the road at Lopez-Jaena Extension last week, and that illegal dumpers be charged for violations of anti-littering ordinance and Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. He added that once the perpetrators are identified, they should be charged “to serve as a lesson to those who engaged in illegal dumping because they are not just destroying the environment, but they are also destroying the image of the city,” Mayor Evelio Leonardia had earlier “ordered a probe on the incident, as he believed it was done intentionally”. In an apparent effort to justify its multi-million garbage collection contract with the city, Daryl Abiol, project supervisor of the city’s garbage hauler IPM-Construction and Development Corporation said they are “regularly collecting the garbage along Lopez-Jaena Extension” and that this is “the first time that it happened.” He means there should be no reason that the trash was scattered all around.

Another report (Aug 27) says that Albiol and the City Department of Public Services that is supposed to oversee the performance (or lack of it) of IPM will “determine where the garbage came from” and the “intention” of whoever dumped them.

All these moves can be described as what the ancients called “Ignis fatuus”, or ghost light that night travelers see or bogs that people notice in swamp lands or marshes. In common language, they are called, “will of the wisp” or “will o wisp” that European old folks tell children. In our folk language, they call this as “santermo” a degradation of “santo muerto” or simply ghost. Technically, this is just an atmospheric light. They are like the mirage of thirsty people in a desert.

The quest of IPM and DPS and the order of Leonardia are merely ignis fatuus, because in truth they will be looking for ghosts, and surely the CLO cannot accommodate Distrito. As lawyers are wont to say, they want to see the “corpus of the crime”.

Similarly, the inquiry as to the intention of the culprit(s) is just as fatuous (that’s the English adaptation) because they cannot even determine where the mixed up garbage came from although the city is daily awash with trash. They will literally be running around the city looking for ghosts. Nevertheless, the order of Leonardia, the demand of Distrito and the “determination” of IPM and DPS are good for public consumption, although they know and people know they cannot find the culprit.

But there is misinformation that IPM is dishing out. Albiol claims they are collecting garbage daily. Sure, but which part of the city? We can pinpoint mounds of garbage not collected for days in many places in Bacolod. If Albiol was telling the truth, then let IPM publish how much garbage it has collected on a monthly basis. The DPS must certify to the correctness of the report because DPS is the agency responsible for this function. Did not DPS endorse IPM?

The IPM contract with the city totals in the millions. The city appropriated P59,433.425 for the collection of garbage for four months only – from September to December 2016. That’s almost P15 million a month. The same monthly expenditure for garbage was appropriated by the city for the entire 2017, also to IPM. But there is a “bonus” to IPM for 2017 – a budget of P51.420 million for “sanitary landfill management”. These are solid cash – not Ignis fatuus. City officials know.

There is a needs to look into this alleged sanitary landfill due disturbing reports that this does not exist; only a dump site. This is easy to check from a “certification” but that’s for another day.

IPM’s misinformation is daily confirmed by dozens of places in Bacolod where garbage is not collected. They are not ignis fatuus. But who are the culprits? People whose garbage is not collected or the collector paid for by consenting city officials?

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