‘Getting served’-A A +A
Sunday, March 10, 2013
ENVIRONMENTALISTS in Metro Cebu have issued a notice to sue to the Cebu City Government for the alleged “continuing and pervasive” violations against environmental laws.
They said the violations committed by the City against Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, can no longer be tolerated.
The notice to sue, which was obtained by Sun.Star Cebu, was penned by seven signatories that include Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of the Philippine Earth Justice Center and Aaron Pedrosa Jr. of the Freedom from Debt Coalition.
Basis for complaint
In the notice sent to Mayor Michael Rama and the City’s Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB), the group said they were alarmed by the continuing lack of awareness, action and effective implementation of RA 9003.
This is because litter, plastics and mixed wastes are still a common sight in the city’s streets, they said. “People do not feel responsible for their wastes; nor do barangay leaders, with the exception of a handful, feel compelled to abide by our laws,” they said.
The group also said that when the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill was closed in December 2011, the decision was made without the participation of stakeholders, including the waste pickers.
Aside from this, the group said the City violated RA 9275, or the Clean Water Act of 2004, since septic wastes continue to be dumped in the city’s waterways because there is no sewage treatment facility.
“The leachate treatment facility in Inayawan is not functioning to the great detriment of the people’s health and the environment,” the group said.
They added that the City still has no Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) almost 13 years after RA 9003 became effective.
Under the law, it is the primary responsibility of the local government unit to implement and enforce its provisions.
The group challenged the City and officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to initiate a city-wide summit on solid waste management so a draft of a solid waste management plan may be formulated.
In the City’s defense
Sought for comment on the group’s allegations, SWMB chairperson Atty. Jade Ponce told Sun.Star Cebu there is no truth to their claims.
Ponce said the City did not leave the waste pickers behind when it closed the landfill. He said the City hired them as job-order personnel at its transfer station in Barangay Inayawan.
Ponce also said the City is already working on the SWMP and it will be comprehensive since it will include the management of hospital and medical wastes.
For the leachate treatment facility, Department of Public Services assistant head and landfill manager Randy Navarro, in a previous interview, said the City doesn’t have one yet.
There was a plan to build a new septic treatment facility worth P11 million at the landfill but the project did not push through when City Hall closed the landfill.
The City had a septic treatment facility at the North Reclamation Area but this stopped operating in 2007 yet.
Navarro had said the septic treatment facility would be constructed once a waste-to-energy project in Inayawan was implemented.
However, the City Council opposed its implementation.
Ponce said the SWMB will have a comprehensive answer to the environmentalist’s notice to sue by next week.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2013.