It may be devoid of publicity, but Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas' order to strictly enforce both the anti-vandalism and anti-littering ordinances is just what the city needs.
We don't know if it helped in the city's recent recognition as the "cleanest and greenest" highly-urbanized city in the region but since Treñas issued the order in July yet, maybe it actually boost the city's chances in bagging the award.
Although Iloilo City could have just handily won the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran's regional competition as the only other highly-urbanized city in Western Visayas, Bacolod, has been exempted after it was elevated in the Hall of Fame for winning the national competition for three consecutive years.
The mayor said that his directive to strictly enforce these local laws is aimed to make Iloilo City true to its vision of being a "clean and green" city.
The move is laudable but the question lies on the will of the Ilonggos to follow these ordinances.
Surely, Treñas would not have ordered strict enforcement if these local laws are being followed in the first place.
The anti-vandalism ordinance, approved in 1999, condemns and penalizes vandalism, including graffiti, and imposes a stiff P5,000 fine or an imprisonment of three months to one year or both fine and imprisonment for violators.
On the other hand, the anti-littering ordinance, was passed in 1963 yet during the term of Mayor Renerio Ticao, only penalizes violators with a fine of not more than P200 or an imprisonment of not more than six months or both at the discretion of the court.
If the Ilonggos are really serious in wanting to live in clean surroundings, they should heed the mayor's call to follow these local laws.
Clean surroundings is an effective weapon against diseases such as the dreaded dengue and typhoid fever so the wisdom of these ordinances is not to just penalize violators but to protect public health as well.
Iloilo City's recognition as the "cleanest and greenest" highly-urbanized in the region should serve as the much-needed push to heighten awareness among Ilonggos
for the need to maintain a "clean and green" surroundings.
As the mayor puts it, "Cleanliness is not only the concern of the government but of the people as well."