Sunday, November 28, 2021

Editorial: Deepen the probe

CITY Councilor Joel Garganera, chairperson of the committee on environment of the Cebu City Council, may be partly politicking when he questioned the reopening by Mayor Tomas Osmeña of the Inayawan dump site but he is on the right path in looking into why the reopening was allowed by concerned government agencies. And he should not stop there; he should also look into the effects of Osmeña's move.

The reopening of the dump site, which former mayor Michael Rama fully closed last year, was among the first acts of Osmeña when he assumed his post on June 30. He had argued that it was cheaper to use the old dump site than to bring the city's trash to a private sanitary landfill in Consolacion and pay the tipping fees.

What he did not say was that the closure order was done by his bitter rival, many of whose policies he reversed, and that Inayawan's barangay chief is Lotlot Ignacio-Soon, who ran for councilor under Team Rama in the May polls but lost.

This could be the reason the mayor didn't hesitate in reopening the dump site even if it could have adverse effects on the nearby residents and establishments.(Interestingly, the dump site is not far from the South Road Properties, especially the site of the residential project of Filinvest Land Inc., one of the firms that purchased SRP lots in what Osmeña described was a questionable transaction.)

The turnaround of agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which had pushed for the closure, was also surprising. Why did the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 allow the reopening despite the consensus early on that the former sanitary landfill is already full? And didn’t Inayawan residents complain about the smell coming from the site?

Weeks after the mayor's order was implemented, its effects are now being felt. The peculiar smell of trash wafts in some areas, including at the SRP, especially at night. Garganera, the City Council and concerned agencies should also look into this and not wait until the situation worsens and the health of the people living or doing business near the dump site is jeopardized.

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