P52.4M budget for landfill rehab approved

ALMOST nine months after the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the permanent closure of the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill, the Cebu City Council approved P52.4 million to cover expenses in the rehabilitation of the facility.

During last week’s regular session, the council approved six resolutions on the rehabilitation of the landfill authored by Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr., head of the committee on public services.

Of the amount, P35.2 million has been allocated for the construction of a perimeter fence around the first five hectares (has.) of the landfill’s entire area of 15.4 has.

Some P10 million has been allocated for the recovery of the three-hectare landfill service area, while P3.4 million has been set aside for the rehabilitation of the facility’s causeway. Around P780,000 has also been allocated for greening and vegetation activities in the landfill, while P3 million has been set aside for other related expenses and for the installation of a new weighbridge scale.

Except for the installation of the weighbridge, which will be taken from the Capital Outlay for Solid Waste Management account, all other rehabilitation works will be charged against the Local Development Fund.

Although generally supportive of the move to rehabilitate the landfill, Barug Team Rama bloc has expressed its opposition to some of Gabuya’s resolutions, particularly on the fencing and recovery of the service area.

Those who voted against these measures were Councilors Jose Daluz III, Joel Garganera, James Anthony Cuenco, Pastor Alcover Jr., Eduardo Rama Jr., Joy Pesquera and Phillip Zafra.
Those who voted in favor, on the other hand, were Councilors Gabuya, Margarita “Margot” Osmeña, Sisinio Andales, Jerry Guardo, Alvin Arcilla, Mary Ann delos Santos, Joy Augustus Young and Nendell Hanz Abella.

During the two-hour discussion, the minority bloc argued that it would be best to wait for the feedback from the service providers that will be tapped by the City Government on the rehabilitation before a budget is appropriated.

“I just don’t see the logic in already having a budget to build a fence when a design has yet to be presented, let alone an architect has yet to be hired for it. Let’s just wait for a tangible design, then we’ll see if its feasible and later on approve the budget for it,” said Rama.

But Gabuya stood pat that the rehabilitation work should be made soon and that the budget has a program of works and estimates prepared by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office.

He said the City Treasurer’s Office already issued certificates of availability of funds for the construction projects.

“We have to start on the rehabilitation because it has been almost a year since the landfill was ordered closed. The rehabilitation is one of the requirements set by the CA when it issued the writ of kalikasan,” Gabuya said.

Since the P52.4 million only covers the first five hectares of the facility’s actual total area, the remaining 10.4 has. will have to wait for the rehab plan, which will be drafted by the service provider tapped by the City Government.

Meantime, the majority bloc wants to prioritize the first five hectares because there has been no action yet on the landfill’s post-closure rehabilitation program since its closure last December.

This, however, is not the first time efforts to rehabilitate the facility were made after it’s operations were ordered stopped.

The landfill was partially closed by then mayor Michael Rama and all wastes from Cebu City were ultimately disposed to a privately operated landfill in Consolacion town. The landfill was formally closed in 2015 on Rama’s order.

The City Council then passed Resolution No. 13-3038-2015 allocating P2.5 million, charged against the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, for the preparation of the closure and rehabilitation plan of the landfill including damage and risk assessment.

But in June 2016, incoming Mayor Tomas Osmeña sought the temporary reopening of the landfill as stated by then acting mayor Margot Osmeña in a letter to Environmental Management Bureau-Central Visayas Director Engr. William Cuñado dated June 8, 2016.

The CA Special 19th Division, however, in its 25-page decision last Dec. 15 ordered the mayor to permanently cease and desist from dumping garbage or solid waste at the facility, until rehabilitation has been made. (RTF)
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