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MMDA thinks the sole reason for EDSA flooding is a lack of discipline in garbage disposal. It’s not

MMDA thinks the sole reason for EDSA flooding is a lack of discipline in garbage disposal. It’s not

  • The traffic bureau is blaming floods AND heavy traffic on a lack of discipline in throwing away garbage. We’re here to unpack why it’s not that simple

Metro Manila and neighboring regions experienced moderate to heavy rains on June 19, resulting in flooding in some areas including EDSA. A portion of EDSA-Santolan until Main Avenue was submerged in a knee-deep flood, as seen in a Facebook post from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). 

The culprit, according to MMDA: the lack of discipline in throwing away garbage. This didn’t just result in flooding but also heavy traffic (as if the latter isn’t a rain or shine problem), the post read.

The traffic bureau said the piles of garbage collected consist mainly of plastic bags, styrofoam, plastic cups, plastic bottles, and food containers that clog the sewers despite MMDA’s daily cleaning and declogging operations.

And if MMDA is doing a daily sweep of these drainages and cleaning the streets, then why do clogging and the subsequent flooding still happen? That just proves that cleaning isn’t enough. We can still do more. Putting the blame on laziness simply fails to acknowledge that flooding is a systemic problem.

Maybe we need to focus on improving waste management and not just waste disposal behavior. We can teach people how to properly dispose of trash (as we have been taught all our lives) but that does nothing if the trash bins are not managed properly and their contents are not sent to a recycling facility or materials recovery center. 

[READ: Despite billion-peso budget, MMDA failed to improve garbage problem—solons, envi group]

Sure, individuals have a role to play, but before we chalk it all up to unruly pedestrians, let’s ask: What else can be done? 

Besides recognizing the responsibility of citizens and the government, why are we not calling out the corporations continually producing these plastic packaging, too? Plastic materials are attractive for a reason: they are convenient, disposable, and cheap to produce and buy. But the reality is that very few companies care where their residual waste ends up once its products have been sold and consumed. It doesn’t help either that environmental laws that ought to regulate plastic are poorly implemented, if at all. 

EDSA Kamuning during a rainy day in 2019. Photo by Joey O. Razon/Philippine News Agency

But we get it, MMDA. It’s easier to blame it on a lack of discipline rather than to dig deeper and address, much less acknowledge, the tangled roots of flooding and plastic consumption.

Then again what can we expect from MMDA, who in the last few days and weeks have been calling out anything but motorized vehicles when it comes to issues from bicycle-vehicle-related accidents to air pollution? 

[READ: Is MMDA sure about daylight saving time as a proposed traffic solution?]

In case you missed it, MMDA has been putting out safety infographics for cyclists on how to hand signal and on wearing safety essentials on the road (including a smartwatch apparently), never mind that motorized vehicles have more control and should shoulder more responsibility on the road that cyclists only share a meager portion of.

Regarding air pollution, hours before that post on trash disposal and flooding, MMDA posted a graphic that reads “Deserve Natin ang Smoke-Free na Hangin” (We deserve smoke-free air) accompanied by a caption that singles out cigarette smoking as one of the sources of air pollution. No mention whatsoever of the smoke that comes from motorized vehicles.

But seriously, the saddest thing about using a lack of discipline as a scapegoat is that people believe the MMDA. They side with their reasoning that only if we “cared about the environment,” “stopped blaming everything on the government,” and “did our part,” flooding will be eased. While individual accountability to our environment is important, it is not a cure-all solution. We haven’t even touched on the bit about climate change and how that heavy outpour (without help from a tropical storm) is just a preview of how bad it will get and how much work there is to do. © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.


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