IT seems like Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is finding it hard to move on from Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez's description of the reopened Inayawan dump site as an “environmental bombshell.” Lopez blurted that phrase out after inspecting the dump site and talking with opposition City Councilor Joel Garganera during her visit to Cebu weeks ago.
In a recent press conference, Osmeña said he wants to put Lopez on the witness stand and be cross-examined on her statement. “Frankly, I don't believe her. What bomb are you talking about? How come nothing happened there? Just because she has the title doesn't mean she's an authority. Whatever her authority is, we deserve an explanation.”
Subsequent reports did not say, however, that the Osmeña camp has asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to summon Lopez. The CA has issued a writ of kalikasan on the Cebu City Government's continued use of the Inayawan dump site but is yet to decide on whether to issue a temporary environmental protection order (Tepo) to stop the City from dumping garbage in the facility.
Osmeña was with Lopez when she visited the dump site and was civil in his initial response when she later ordered officials of DENR 7 to close the dump site. Now he is demanding a scientific explanation from Lopez on her “bombshell” claim while insisting that nothing was wrong with the dump site's operation, which is far from the truth because complaints about the bad smell there are still being heard.
What the mayor's rant against Lopez shows is that objectivity is often lost when ego gets the better of government officials. He is both ranting and nitpicking on the issue. The point is, Lopez's use of the phrase “environmental bombshell” needs no further elaboration. It was a summation of the results of her inspection of the site and of the information that it is near the sea.
Instead of obsessing with Lopez and her “environmental bombshell” utterance, Osmeña should fasttrack the process of looking for an alternative dumpsite and not allow further damage to the environment in the area and the health of nearby residents by waiting for January to finally close the facility. Or he should not let his ego, or even the idea of revenge, muddle his appraisal of the issue.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 11, 2016.
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