THE Cebu City Council wants the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill permanently closed. But where are we going to dump the city’s garbage, asks Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

In a conflict between the law and necessity which shall prevail?

City Hall used to haul the city’s trash to a private dumping site in Consolacion but Osmeña is loath to continue the practice because it is expensive (some say overpriced by at least 50 percent). Moreover, there was not even a contract binding the city with the haulers and with the dumpsite owner, he points out.

Because that option is out, Osmeña says the city has no other recourse but to continue to operate the Inayawan landfill. That, or he will just dump the garbage at the South Road Properties (SRP).

It’s a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. Osmeña knows that both choices could cause him legal trouble. But he doesn’t seem to care.

But why the SRP? Why not somewhere else such as, for example, in Tormis St. in Sambag 1 where the pile of garbage is growing every day, thanks to the inaction of the barangay captain? The SRP owes its existence to Osmena. What is in there that makes the mayor want to “punish” his own child?

Is it the sale of a huge chunk of the SRP to the Ayala-SM consortium and to Filinvest by Rama? Osmeña has never attempted to hide his displeasure over the sale by public bidding. He preferred an unsolicited proposal which, according to him, is more beneficial to the city as landowner.

Shortly after he won, I interviewed Osmeña in our radio program, Frankahay Ta. “I plan to recover the property that Rama sold,” he told me matter-of-factly. How, I asked him. As far as I knew, the sale was a done deal. The buyers already paid the purchase price or at least a huge part of it although Rama was not able to fully utilize the proceeds because the city council sat on his budget.

I recall Osmeña replying that he does not plan to go to court to seek a rescission or annulment because the buyers have a battery of lawyers. Then how will you do it, I asked him again. “The people,” he answered, “they hold the key.” He did not elaborate.

In a chat we had last Monday, former Cebu City south district Rep. Antonio Cuenco said something that could provide a light on how the mayor intends to accomplish the cancellation of the sale. “Tommy wants the sale rescinded,” Cuenco told me. “That is why he wants to wrest the majority in the council.”

Will he get it (the majority)? His BO-PK had six members elected to the council last May; the rest were from Team Rama. Two of Rama’s allies, Dave Tumulak and Hanz Abella have, however, left his camp, to become “independent.” The popular belief is that when push comes to shove they will vote with the BOPK. It is also believed that it will be a matter of time before they shift political allegiance to Osmeña.

But the mayor needs one more vote to gain the upper hand in the council. It was widely believed that Cuenco’s son, James, will provide it. The father quickly shot down the idea, however. He acknowledged that Osmeña had approached both him and James but they said no. “Our family still subscribes to the old virtue of loyalty,” he said. “James won his first term and his reelection as a member of Team Rama. There is no reason why we should abandon them.”

Unless he is able to convince another Team Rama councilor to defect, it is unlikely that Osmeña can secure the vote to cancel the sale. The SRP will thus continue to be in his sight as an alternate dumping ground.

Garbage stinks. So does politics.