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Saturday, February 16, 2019

CA urges parties in Inayawan landfill Writ of Kalikasan case to meet halfway

THE Court of Appeals (CA) yesterday urged contesting parties in the petition seeking to close the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill to come up with a “win-win solution.”

The CA-Cebu Station justices deferred the issuance of a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) to pave the way for a possible agreement that would benefit the public.

“Let us look for the welfare of the people,” CA Cebu Executive Justice Gabriel Ingles told both parties during hearing of the petition.

The CA’s 19th Division is hearing the petition for a Writ of Kalikasan with prayer for issuance of a TEPO that Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera filed against Mayor Tomas Osmeña and two environmental agency officials.

Last Sept. 23, Garganera filed the petition against 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 before the CA.

Garganera is seeking the issuance of a temporary environmental protection order to “stop (a) looming environmental catastrophe.”

“The reopening of the dumpsite again involves the large-scale dumping of unprocessed garbage into the area, in blatant violation of the laws governing solid waste management,” read Garganera’s 40-page petition prepared by his lawyer Jasper Lucero.

In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Edgardo Delos Santos, the appeals court issued the Writ of Kalikasan against Osmeña and two other officials.

“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. It would certainly be counter-productive if by issuing a TEPO to close the Inayawan landfill, it would then be the whole of Cebu City that would suffer as a result due to the lack of an alternative solution to the waste disposal problem,” read the CA resolution.

Differences

In yesterday’s hearing, Justice Ingles urged both parties to set aside their political differences for the welfare of the residents of Cebu and Talisay City.

Ingles proposed the parties come up with an agreement beneficial to public welfare.

The justice said that a private dumping site in Consolacion town, where the City used to dump its trash, could be the quicker solution to the issue.

But City Legal Officer Joseph Bernaldez said he will first consult Mayor Osmeña about the proposal.

Bernaldez pointed out the mayor rejected the idea of going back to a dumpsite in Consolacion since the City was paying “too much” for tipping fees there.

The private sanitary landfill in Consolacion collected P700 for every ton of garbage thrown by the City. The City disposes of 300 to 500 tons of waste per day.

The lawyer said the transaction lacked a contract and that the landowner is demanding about P32 million in “arrears” from the City Government.

Interviewed after the hearing, lawyer Lucero said they will abide by the CA ruling.

“We will continue with our fight to stand on our fundamental right to a balanced and healthy ecology,” said Lucero.

The petitioner is also looking into the proposed “win-win solution” to address the issue, said Lucero.

“We are here for the residents of Cebu and Talisay City. We just want the environmental laws to be followed,” he said.

Amicable settlement is another way of solving the issue, said Lucero, adding that they hope the issue of the TEPO will soon be resolved.

Osmeña’s consultant, Nida Cabrera, said the City Government is still looking for a site for the landfill.

The City is also eyeing the establishment of a bio-gas plant in the landfill, said Cabrera.

The appeals court set the next hearing of the petition on Oct. 24.

Right

In the petition, Garganera said he filed a case since his constitutional right and that of future generations’ is “threatened and is actually being violated” by the acts of the respondents.

The reopening of the dumpsite will bring irreversible damage to the detriment of countless residents living in nearby cities and provinces, the councilor said.

Garganera is asking for the issuance of a 72-hour cease-and-desist order against the operation of the dumpsite for violating environmental laws.

He also asked the court to order the respondents to undertake cleanup, restorative and rehabilitative activities at the dumpsite and to submit a monthly or a quarterly compliance report.

Garganera attached to his petition the findings of the DENR, Environmental Management Bureau and the Department of Health, as well as affidavits of local officials from Talisay City and Barangay Inayawan.

The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy to protect one’s Constitutional right to a healthy environment. The 15.4-ha. landfill was reopened last June after former mayor Michael Rama shut it down in January 2015.
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