THE Court of Appeals (CA) found enough basis to proceed with a case that asks the Cebu City Government to close its landfill in Barangay Inayawan again.
It issued a Writ of Kalikasan against Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and two environmental agency officials, in response to a petition filed by Councilor Joel Garganera.
The CA invited the respondents to a summary hearing today.
It did not yet grant a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO), since its only evidence as of yesterday were the documents Garganera had presented.
Any hasty issuance of a TEPO would be “counter-productive” and cause “the whole of Cebu City to suffer due to the lack of alternative solution to the waste disposal problem,” said the resolution from Associate Justice Edgardo delos Santos.
The TEPO would amount to a cease-and-desist order against the landfill’s operations for 72 hours.
Garganera has asked the court to stop the Inayawan landfill operations, saying it violated the laws on air pollution, ecological solid waste management, clean water, the Sanitation Code, and the Revised Procedural Manual.
Last Sept. 23, the councilor filed the petition for the Writ of Kalikasan against Mayor Osmeña; Engr. William Cunado, officer-in-charge of the Environmental Management Bureau 7; and Emma Melana, chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7.
The Writ of Kalikasan serves as a legal remedy to protect one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment. The Supreme Court provided for it in 2010, under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for Environment Case as a Special Civil Action.
Garganera had asked for the issuance of a TEPO to “stop (a) looming environmental catastrophe of such magnitude.”
In the petition, he said he filed the petition since his constitutional right and that of future generations is “threatened and is actually being violated” by what the respondents have done.
“The reopening of the dumpsite will bring irreversible damage to the detriment of countless residents living in nearby cities and provinces,” Garganera said.
City Atty. Joseph Bernaldez declined to comment on the matter, saying that they will have to wait for the results of today’s hearing.
The CA said: “The court’s viewpoint on this issue is also impelled by the concern that any precipitate issuance of a Tepo would have far-reaching consequences on the collection of garbage in the entire city.”
In a press conference yesterday, Garganera said the continued operation of the landfill “is throwing good money after the bad, not to mention the damage to our environment.”
“In fact, the Bureau of Fisheries is testing the landfill’s surrounding water. But the City is quick to judge that it’s the fault of the residents because they’re throwing their garbage to the sea. The question is, how about the landfill?” he asked.
The councilor said that the Veterinary Department has released a report on the test results, and questioned the City’s conclusion as the landfill’s leachate reportedly goes directly to the sea.
As for the facility’s operation, the mayor’s environmental consultant, Nida Cabrera, said that until the CA rules on the issuance of a TEPO, the City will continue using its landfill.
“The operation will still continue. Even if we prohibit dumping, it will still be open because we’re addressing the environmental compliance certificate before proceeding with the closure,” the former city councilor said in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.
Sun.Star Cebu tried to reach Osmeña for his comment, but got no response.
The 15.4-hectare landfill was reopened last June, more than a year after former mayor Michael Rama had shut it down in January 2015.