THE Cebu City Government started dumping its garbage Saturday, December 17, on a vacant lot in the South Road Properties (SRP), two days after the appeals court ordered that the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill should be closed permanently.
Around 3:45 p.m., garbage trucks that belong to the City and some barangays started throwing trash on the lot, particularly the area near the Department of Public Services (DPS) compound and the property of Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI).
These barangays included Mabolo, Guadalupe, Capitol Site, Inayawan and Basak San Nicolas.
Director William Cunado of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said he has ordered a team to inspect tomorrow the reportedly illegal dumping of solid waste on that SRP lot.
After the 19th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the landfill closed, Mayor Tomas Osmeña said a transfer station will be established in the SRP.
Roberto Cabarrubias, DPS chief, said that some of the garbage truck drivers delivered the waste they had collected in the landfill yesterday morning.
“In the afternoon, we told them to deliver the garbage to SRP because our mayor has already ordered that the landfill will be closed,” he said.
Cabarrubias, a former city councilor, said that garbage will be stored temporarily in the SRP’s City Hall block.
Since the area can only accommodate around 600 tons of garbage, Cabarrubias said that officials have surveyed other areas in the SRP where the waste will be temporarily stored.
He said they’re looking at a lot between the property of Filinvest Land Inc. and Seaside City Cebu, and an area near the entrance to the SRP, near the unused tower.
Is it legal?
While this developed, Cabarrubias said that City officials are already in negotiations with a private service provider who can collect and throw Cebu City’s garbage.
At present, the two parties are working on the terms and conditions of the deal, Cabarrubias added.
“We wanted to be sure of everything. We want to enter into a contract with the private supplier once everything is final,” Cabarrubias said.
The mayor’s order to set up a transfer station in the SRP provoked several reactions, including a comment from retired Regional Trial Court Judge Simeon Dumdum Jr.
In a Facebook post, Dumdum said that Osmeña should consider some provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
Section 37, on the prohibition against the use of open dumps for solid waste, states: “No open dumps shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs (local government unit), which constitutes the use of open dumps for solid wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act: Provided, That within three (3) years after the effectivity of this Act, every LGU shall convert its open dumps into controlled dumps, in accordance with the guidelines set in Section 41 of this Act: Provided, further, That no controlled dumps shall be allowed five (5) years following the effectivity of this Act.”
Section 38 states that no person should start operating a solid waste management facility, including site preparation, construction and expansion, until that person gets an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Officials of local governments and public agencies who fail to comply with and enforce the rules under RA 9003 will be charged administratively.
When asked to comment on the matter, Osmeña, in a text message, said that what’s operating in the SRP is just a transfer station.
Cabarrubias explained that since it’s just a transfer station, the facility is temporary and will only be used while the City finds a provider who can collect and dispose of its garbage.
While waiting for a clear pronouncement on where the garbage will be disposed, Apas Barangay Ramil Ayuman asked his constituents not to dump their waste outside their houses.
Ayuman said there is already uncollected garbage in Sitio San Miguel but that local officials will put the garbage collection on hold first.
The CA, in its decision promulgated last Dec. 15, ordered the EMB-DENR 7 to submit a monitoring report on the Inayawan landfill and file criminal, administrative and civil cases against violators.
The EMB, which is under the DENR, has organized a team to monitor the Inayawan landfill as ordered by the appeals court.
Director Cunado said that the team is headed by lawyer Unale Monares of the EMB 7 legal department. It has three members from the Office of the DENR regional director, solid waste department, and the air and water division.
Cunado said that the inspection team that will be sent to the transfer station will give its report on Wednesday, when the agency will take up the CA decision.
In the meantime, Cunado said he is limiting his public statements on the matter because in the writ of kalikasan case, the EMB-DENR 7 is represented by the Office of the Solicitor General.
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera had filed the petition for a writ of kalikasan against Mayor Osmeña, saying that when the mayor reopened the landfill, that exposed residents to threats to their health.
In its decision, the CA also asked the City to rehabilitate the Inayawan landfill.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2016.
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