I know spin when I see it

I know spin when I see it


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I watched repeatedly the interview of Ipe Remollo gave on Jan. 31, presumably in response to the recent protest rally against the pyrolysis gasification machine, and the radio interviews the past few days.
I watched it repeatedly because I did not want to miss anything, and especially, I did not want to misinterpret anything. Was this ever an exercise in spin, if I ever saw one?

Spin is the term used when someone, usually politicians, informs his constituents about an occurrence, or a series of events, that is unpleasant. Partial truths are given out, no outright lies, but not the whole truth either.

Very much like Ipe saying in the interview, “Dili nako sala! DENR approved the pyrolysis solution, and there is even an ECC [environmental compliance certificate for it.” Partial truth.

What he did not say is that environment advocates and an international expert in pyrolysis gasification technology had asked the City Council to join an open session on July 29, 2020 to educate them on the dangers of such a technology.

The expert, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, and representatives showed up at the appointed time, but after half an hour, they were told the meeting had been postponed. They asked to be notified about the rescheduled meeting.

Leo Mamicpic, one of the environment advocates, was eventually informed an hour before the rescheduled meeting. Needless to say, no environmental representative could attend because of the short notice, and their prior commitments.

No one, and I mean no one, calls a meeting an hour before it is to start — unless it’s an emergency. And this wasn’t one!

If this wasn’t a manipulation of the situation, I don’t know what is. The City didn’t want the environment advocates there — it strikes me, pure and simple.

The environment advocates later learned that the barangay captains were there, and had endorsed the pyrolysis gasification technology without the benefit of listening to the environmental and health consequences.

So were the barangay executives just sitting around, and could show up for a critical meeting one hour before start time? When I grow up, I’d like that kind of a job — to just sit around, and wait to be called by the boss to a crucial meeting!

And so a decision was made. And Suki Trading Corp. of Cebu was awarded the contract.

The local government of Dumaguete got the information they needed to make the major decision from none other than Suki Trading Corp. of Cebu.

Seriously? You ask the fox to give you advice on how to keep the hens in the henhouse safe?

Now for more spin. We’re here now, Ipe said, and that the City is waiting for an alternative to the pyrolysis machine. In the meantime, with pride in his voice, he indicated that with this machine, we now have abo (ash) residuals mixed with crushed glass and sand to make hollow blocks. Inexpensive hollow blocks.

The ash is a result of burning unsegregated waste that includes plastics, organics, and materials containing heavy metals. Heavy metals end up in the ash, making it toxic. Toxic ash = toxic hollow blocks.

He also needed to say that dioxin is a byproduct of the burning process, and is being dispersed into the air, day in-day out, for around 18 months now? Sorry, I need to correct myself: They don’t burn on Fridays. It’s maintenance day.

Cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, and other health problems linked to the toxic pollutants — interesting that a discussion of these negative consequences were left out.

Plastics are shredded, we now have plastic armchairs which will be donated to the schools. Ipe segued into this topic without explaining that we are burning a lot of plastic that don’t necessarily end up becoming chairs. We’re not only producing plastic armchairs but toxic hollow blocks and dioxin, dioxin, dioxin. More spin. More partial truth.

And I understand the plastic armchairs look dirty because the source is dirty, i.e., unwashed plastic raw materials.

“Solid waste, organic malata na, [ma]convert napod. We have a composter, and making organic fertilizer!” Yeh! But I understand the farmers do not like the quality of the fertilizer. Why is that?

I was glad to hear he is prepared to experiment, and yet, he doesn’t believe there is a better alternative.

To quote Ipe: “Endorsing zero-waste — it’s impossible! Where are we going to throw our paper? Our palot sa saging? Elubong ba sa tugkaran? Not everyone has a tugkaran.”

By spinning it that way, the unknowing public could be left feeling so grateful that the City has a pyrolysis machine so that we would not have to be bothered into digging up our tugkaran to bury our malata. Did the City administration think we would not see through this subterfuge?

Have we not heard that paper is recycled to make new paper? Even toilet paper comes from recycled paper. So please, let us not allow ourselves to be misled into believing there is a huge problem about where to throw our paper or palot sa saging. We recycle!

It appears that people who have alternative solutions are regarded as naysayers, mga “nega” and perhaps may have gotten under his skin. Here’s why I think this is, to quote Ipe again: “Let’s see if they are practicing zero-waste! Are they segregating? I challenge the media to see if they are observing zero-waste; take videos!”

And so we take up that challenge! You can show up tomorrow so this way, no one will be able to say the environment advocates rushed to stage their seriousness in zero-waste efforts.

“Where were they when there was the order to close the dumpsite?,”
Ipe asked. “Ga buta-buta ra sila; sayon ra ang esturya!” And continued to rant: “Nganong ga samok-samok sila sa Dumaguete? Adtoa ang ubang lungsod! Show it to us if there is one barangay in the whole country that practices zero-waste. Show it to us!” It appears that Ipe has not heard of San Fernando in Pampanga, or Siquijor that is working toward zero-waste.

“They cannot do it [zero-waste] without the support of the government. Kita man po’y diktahan!” Clearly, his disdain for concerned citizens, who are taxpayers (read: who pay their salaries), showed.

“Instead of devoting your time criticizing, stopping what we are doing now, [when] it [pyrolysis] is the best solution.”

Translated to something we can understand – voila! The mountain of yuck disappears. Hello dioxin molecules swaying in the breeze. Now you see it, now you don’t. But our cells will eventually let us know they’ve been touched by these angels of death.

“We are all in this together. Dili tanan tawo mosunod sa gobyerno,” Ipe further said. And to quote his closing statement, “Segregation has always been there for the longest time. Nalibug na ang mga barangays!”

But of course, nalibug na ang mga barangay because what may have been segregated at source, in our homes, are all thrown back together into one garbage truck anyway.

What does ENRO say about this inconsistent method? Or is this the City’s way of demonstrating its attention to job-creation? Combine segregated materials with the unsegregated waste so we can hire a hundred more people — who could eventually be a source of votes.

Great example of make-work projects! Great example of this local government wasting its resources. Great example of an administration that does not consider science in its policy-making.

Diana Banogon-Bugeya
[email protected]



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