THE inquiry by the House committee on ecology into the shipping last January of 5,000 metric tons of garbage from South Korea to Cebu got more interesting when the possibility was raised that the trash was actually headed for the Inayawan dump site. This, in turn, conjured the suspicion that the dump site, which former mayor Michael Rama had closed, was reopened by former acting mayor Margarita Osmeña precisely for the purpose of accommodating the trash.
That theory, though, is mere speculation as of the moment because of the lack of evidence. The only information propping it up was the one made by a certain Felix Lopez Jr., who supposedly wrote President Rodrigo Duterte and alleged that the mayor and his lieutenant, former councilor Augustus Pe Jr., together with several other personalities, planned to dump the trash in the Inayawan facility.
Osmeña denied the allegation and labeled it as unfair. He and his lieutenants claimed that the only reason behind reopening the dump site was that the private sanitary landfill in Consolacion town, where the city’s trash had been thrown when the Inayawan facility was closed, is “too far.” But Osmeña actually brought the suspicion on himself because of his obsession with a dump site that a former environment secretary has described as an “environmental bombshell.”
Even now, the mayor’s plans for the Inayawan dump site continue to invite other kinds of suspicions. The latest seems to be that he is finding a way to go around the Court of Appeals order closing the dump site by preparing to declare it as a giant materials recovery facility. That would mean that instead of being rehabilitated, the site would continue to be a destination of trash.
The House committee on ecology’s hearing on the South Korea trash is treating the Inayawan dump site as a peripheral issue. But it might be well for it to also look into the facility and the many violations by the Cebu City Government of environmental laws because of the mayor’s obsession with its use. That obsession has stymied efforts to find better ways of disposing of the city’s trash.