Tuesday , May 22, 2018

Editorial: No rush to close dump site?

WHEN Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez ordered her people in the region to issue a closure order for the Inayawan dump site during her visit to Cebu City last week, there was an obvious sense of urgency in her decision. She described the dump site, which is near the sea, as an “environmental bombshell.” That's a vague phrase, but the message is clear.

Merriam-Webster defines bombshell as “something that is very surprising or shocking” (ex. She dropped a bombshell when she said she wouldn't run for reelection.). In this context, “environmental bombshell” can be taken to mean “environmentally shocking.” That's awkward but can still be understood. But she could have meant, for “bombshell”, a time bomb.

Remember Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association supreme master Ruben Ecleo Jr., who was granted P1 million bail by the court in 2004 because his doctor described him as a “walking time bomb” for his heart ailment? This could be the context of Lopez's “environmental bombshell” phrase. That the Inayawan dump site is an environmental time bomb that could blow up on us soon.

But Mayor Tomas Osmeña seems to have not sensed the urgency of closing the dump site, or why hasn't he gone beyond merely talking about alternatives? Instead, he seems overly relaxed, with Jan. 1. 2017, or around two months, as the tentative closure date. That could be a long time considering the environmental and health worries that have surfaced in the few months that the dump site was reopened.

And yet Asian Energy Systems Corp., which operates the private landfill in Consolacion town where Cebu City under the administration of former mayor Michael Rama previously dumped the city's garbage, has expressed its willingness to accommodate the trash even if the City still owes the firm P32 million in tipping fees. Talisay City Mayor Eduardo Gullas is also open to the possibility of allowing Cebu City to dump its garbage in the landfill in Barangay Tapul.

So when will the mayor make his move? Or is he really sincere in his promise to “follow the law” and finally close the dump site?