Metro Manila spews out tons of garbage in any given day, and it is up to local government units to perform the job of regular and efficient garbage disposal to keep our surroundings clean and green.
But what if LGUs come up short in providing this important function, with city residents left to fend for themselves as tons of smelly uncollected trash assault the nostrils and send us reeling from the big stink?
Over in Parañaque City, we’ve been told, concerned citizens are urging members of the city council to conduct another public hearing on the P414-million contract awarded to a new private garbage hauler that reportedly did not have the proper permit when it took part in the bidding.
Barangay officials have informed Parañaque Vice Mayor Joan Villafuerte that tons of garbage remained uncollected in their respective areas for almost a month now despite promises from Metrowaste Solid Waste Management Corp., the new garbage contractor.
Parañaque Mayor Eric Olivarez awarded the contract to Metrowaste last December 27 with a contract price of P400,000, higher than that offered by the previous contractor, Leonel Waste Management Corp.
Last January 24, the city council started a probe of the controversial P414-million contract the city mayor entered into with an apparently inexperienced trash collector.
Two councillors, namely Marvin Santos, chair of the rules and oversight committee, and Jomari Yllana, chair of the committee on environment, natural resources and waste management, led the inquiry.
Villafuerte expressed concern over the manner Olivarez entered into a garbage collection deal without consulting the 18-member city council.
She said Olivarez violated Sec. 22 (c) of the Local Government Code (Corporate Powers): “Unless otherwise provided in the code, no contract may be entered into by the local chief executive in behalf of the local government unit without prior authorization by the Sanggunian.”
Meantime, an official of a homeowner’s association in Barangay Don Bosco told members of the city council a public hearing should be conducted because Metrowaste had no business permit when they participated in the bidding last December 22.
The resident, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, disclosed that Metrowaste failed again to secure a city business permit when Olivarez signed the multi-million contract last December 27.
At the time, the 2022 contract with Leonel had not yet lapsed as it was supposed to end only on December 31.
It was learned that Leonel did not participate in the bidding on December 22, for unknown reasons, leaving Metrowaste as the lone bidder.
The new garbage hauler from Pasig City only secured their business permit last December 29, two days after the contract was awarded by Olivarez, according to the resident from Barangay Don Bosco.
The business permit is a key document that allows a business enterprise to legally operate in the area where it is registered. It is considered the license to operate within a specific area.
The experience with Metrowaste was the diametrical opposite of that with Leonel, residents from Barangay San Dionisio explained.
“Metrowaste has failed to comply with the new garbage collection schedule that was released to the public. There are plenty of areas where the big trucks could not enter the small streets.”
City councilors who conducted the first hearing said Metrowaste performance has been sub-par since the new garbage contractor failed to fulfil its promise of “zero backlog” garbage by January 19.
The councilors said their offices have been flooded with complaints from residents that the new garbage collector is incompetent despite being paid millions of pesos by the city government.
So how will the city mayor deal with this garbage crisis?
Meanwhile, there’s another crisis in our midst, and it’s in education.
We wrote recently about three World Bank-funded studies that showed Philippine basic education in distress.
Proof? One in every four Grade 5 students does not have the reading and mathematics skills for Grade 2 or 3, and four in every five 15-year-old students do not understand basic mathematical concepts that should be mastered by fifth graders.
The international lending institution’s bleak assessment of basic education in this country is also validated by another study, this time by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The agency found that most Grade 5 students in the Philippines and its poorer neighbors do not have the minimum reading and mathematical skills expected at the end of primary education.
Grade 5 students in the Philippines received an average score of 288 in reading assessment, behind Vietnam (336), Malaysia (319), Myanmar (292) and Cambodia (290).
The Philippines was ahead only of Laos, where students got an average score of 275.
The average score of Filipino Grade 5 students in mathematics assessment was also 288, indicating that they can generally apply number properties and units of measurement, but only 17 percent had the ability to perform mathematical operations, including fractions, and interpret tables and graphs.
Based on these findings, the UNICEF stressed the need for the country to “harness the potential” of early childhood education (ECE).
Our question: Is our Department of Education listening?