CAGAYAN de Oro City Mayor Constantino Jaraula sees no problem with the plan of a funeral firm to put up a mortuary in Barangay Bulua, even as he admitted he was treading carefully on the issue because of “delicadeza.”

In a brief interview in his office on Monday, the mayor admitted that he sold St. Peter Memorial Chapel the piece of land at Zone 2, Bulua, where the funeral facility is going to be built.

“That parcel of land was bought in good faith and I see nothing wrong with the project,” said Jaraula.

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Residents in the area, however, oppose the project fearing it would contaminate the nearby spring where they bathe, wash their clothes and get their drinking water.

Jaraula said he was aware of the “sensitivity” of the issue, and has been distancing himself from the approval process that would give the firm the permit to construct the mortuary. He said all permit applications are being handled by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Despite these thorny issues, however, the mayor insisted that the project should bed given the green light.

“It is a well planned project, and one that is very expensive—just to make sure that nobody is harmed, specially that the area is a protected site,” Jaraula said.

The funeral company, he said, would not invest on a multimillion project “that could destroy the environment or harm anyone.” Earlier reports pegged the cost of the mega-mortuary at P200 million—over P2 million of which would be spent for a modern septic tank that purportedly guarantees no seepage.

“What the residents are doing are out of ignorance and the lack of information regarding the project,” the mayor said. “I suggest that before they act, they must study first the good side of the project and must be open-minded to changes.”

It would also be “unfair” to the company to be denied business on a location that he said was known for funeral parlors, pointing out that the city’s zoning allows the construction of a mortuary in the area.

“Why would people complain when in fact, the proposed project site is beside the Bollozos mortuary? What difference would it make?” he said, adding that among the mortuaries in the area, St. Peter would use a more “advanced technology” in constructing its funeral facilities. On Saturday, around 600 residents showed up at a public hearing on the project to voice their opposition to the mortuary.

Barangay officials, meanwhile, said they would abide with the general sentiment of the residents, prompting St. Peter officials to walk out and describe the public hearing as “a sham.” (NJM)