It's only the Tagoloan municipal government that can rescue its constituents and deal with the tons of hazardous wastes smuggled from South Korea and left to rot at the Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental since July 21 this year.
Based on what I read online, two shipments of garbage were smuggled into the container terminal under the guise of recyclable materials.
But closer inspection by authorities showed that the wastes were hazardous hospital wastes that had been left to rot for months now.
To say that Tagoloan's local officials cannot keep silent on this incident is overstating the obvious.
They can feign ignorance and keep silent at the risk of incurring the wrath of their constituents in next year's midterm elections.
In fact it is an irony that the tons of hazardous wastes were found in ther container terminal in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Sta. Cruz just as Tagoloan town itself is struggling to deal with their own garbage problem.
Maybe this incident serves a greater purpose which is to rouse the local officials out of their collective apathy and slumber and get their butts off their air conditioned offices to do some actual services to their constituents.
That said other agencies also share the blame for the presence of the hazardous wastes in Tagoloan town.
There is the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Phividec who could have but failed to stop the smuggling of South Korean garbage into Tagoloan's shores.
The wastes were supposedly intended for a locally based South Korean company called Vende Soko Philippines. To its credit it was not the Tagoloan municipal government but the Provincial Industrial Estate Management Office (PIEMO) that issued the clearance for the garbage.
And if only to give it some urgency, the Provincial Board invited officials of Vende Soko Philippines to a public hearing on the case but they were a no-show. From all indications, it appears to be a snub.
What makes it worse is that the PB decided to drop the hearing, failing to inform both the governor's office and Tagoloan town officials of the presence of tons of hazardous wastes in Tagoloan.
Now the PB wants to refer the matter to Congress. Why take the trouble of planning a public hearing if the PB would drop it anyway? It's a complete waste of time and money on the part of taxpayers.
I still insist on the premise that Tagoloan officials should deal directly with the company and make it accountable to their constituents.
Under the law (Presidential Decree 538) that created the Phividec, both the Tagoloan and Villanueva municipal governments don't have authority to issue permits to companies operating in the industrial zone like Vende Soko.
Phividec is an artificial person or entity and thus their people could not be affected. In reality Phividec is only a building whose employees are not from Tagoloan including of course management and the board of directors.
All these people are political appointees. The people who will fall ill to the presence of hazardous wastes in the container terminal are the Tagoloanons who live nearby, not the officials and employees who are secured in their homes in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City or Manila.
Who would breathe the foul smell coming from the wastes? Not those Phividec officials and employees.
If I was the mayor or a councilor I would demand for an immediate return of the hazardous wastes to its point of origin.
I would also push for a seize and desist order as suggested by Boy Casino who posted an upset emoji on his post at the Facebook Lumad Tagoloanon page.
This incident is an opportunity to review again the law creating Phividec which received a lukewarm reception from Tagoloan residents years ago as they were not fully informed let alone consulted on its creation.
And who can question imperial Manila at that time? Phividec may have given Tagoloan some improvements over time but Phividec is still a pain in the ass for local officials then and now.
Incumbent Tagoloan Mayor Heckert Emano should take counsel from his uncle, former Tagoloan mayor and Misamis Oriental governor Vicente Emano.
The elder Emano or Donkoy as he is known fought Phividec through the years and attended rallies against it during his days. I wonder why he had become silent in the years since then.
I was there when he was at his best arguing for the interests of Tagoloan and Villanueva towns. As a stenographer borrowed from the Circuit Court I recorded the minutes of the public hearing on the case.
Years later and another Emano is Tagoloan mayor. He should take counsel from his uncle and act on it if only to prove to his constituents that he is worthy of their trust in him.
Any change or amendment to the Phividec charter should be initiated by the Tagoloan and Villanueva residents, certainly not Benjo or any member of the Phividec's board of trustees.
Mayor Heckert Emano or any of his officials who have the guts and clarity of purpose to challenge and lobby for the revision of the Phividec charter deserve to be supported and voted for by the Tagoloanons.
There will be more stories on this issue but the writing is clear and to end this article, I quote Uriel Paguidopon's Facebook post: “BS to Phividec and the Bureau of Customs the shipment would (not) be released if it was not approved.”