Monday, August 26, 2019

Landfill reopened for South Korean garbage?

WAS the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill reopened by the Cebu City Government last year on suspicious grounds?

This was raised by Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu, third district) during the second House inquiry yesterday on the mixed garbage from South Korea that was shipped to Cebu last January.

The issue made headlines earlier this year after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) discovered that around 5,000 metric tons or five million kilograms of mixed waste were delivered to a warehouse and an open dumpsite in Mandaue City.

Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s name was dragged into the controversy after a certain Felix Lopez Jr. alleged that the mayor, former councilor Jun Pe, and some Customs personnel and Koreans conspired to dump the garbage at the Inayawan landfill.

Osmeña suspected that Councilor Joel Garganera had a hand in the allegation as it was the latter who had filed the petition for a writ of kalikasan before the Court of Appeals, which led to the closure of the landfill in December 2016.

Garganera, who attended the House probe for the second time, denied knowing anyone named Felix Lopez Jr. The councilor, however, said that the mayor’s pronouncement to reopen the landfill was indeed suspicious.

“It’s very suspicious because the same group who wanted to close it before now wants it reopened,” he said.

He was referring to Nida Cabrera, a former councilor who urged then Cebu City mayor Michael Rama to implement a closure plan for the landfill in 2013.

“If 5,000 metric tons of trash were shipped, do you suppose that a sane businessman would gamble without assurance?” Garcia asked to which Garganera replied, “It can’t stay at the port but the only landfills that can accommodate that huge volume would be the privately-owned one in Consolacion and the City-owned Inayawan landfill.”

Roberto Cabarrubias, chief of the Department of Public Services who attended the hearing on Osmeña’s behalf, denied the allegations.

“As far as we know, the 5,000 metric tons of trash from Korea were dumped in Mandaue, not in Cebu City. We are not accepting waste from other local government units, so there is no way that the trash from Korea was thrown to the landfill,” he said.

Cabarrubias added that when the facility was still in operation, business establishments that wished to dump their trash there had to secure permits required by the City.

The House’s committee on ecology is expected to draft a report on the two congressional hearings.

“This will be the basis of the Ombudsman to file cases against officials who are involved in this mess,” said committee chair Estrilita Suansing. (RTF)
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