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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Inayawan residents told: Sue City over landfill's smell

RESIDENTS and establishments suffering from the Inayawan landfill’s smell can sue the Cebu City Government before the anti-graft office, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 said.

Local governments that failed to manage their landfills can be sued for violating Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001, said Engr. Marco Andrew Silveron, chief of the Solid Waste Management Section of the DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7.

As this developed, the Cebu City Legal Office said that the City Council cannot impose on Mayor Tomas Osmeña what they think he should do about the landfill in Barangay Inayawan.

The council called on the executive department last Tuesday to stop using the facility, citing complaints about the foul smell.

Within rights

RA 9003 requires local government units (LGUs) to implement solid waste management programs, including the proper management of controlled dumps and the closure of open dumpsites.

“If residents living there are affected by the dumpsite’s operations, they have the right to file a complaint against the LGU if they fail to implement the law,” Silveron said in the Kapihan sa PIA.

Silveron gave the reaction following reports that some residents and establishments in the South Road Properties (SRP) are complaining of the smell coming from the city landfill.

In an interview, Silveron said that since 1999, the DENR has been monitoring the Inayawan Landfill for violations.

Silveron said that in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2009, they agency called the Cebu City Government’s attention for failing to manage the Inayawan landfill.

But since the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the Inayawan Landfill was issued by DENR Manila, the regional office decided to submit the results of their monitoring to their central office.

However, their recommendations have not been acted upon.

Options

When the City expressed an intention to reopen the Inayawan landfill, Silveron said that DENR provided the City Government with various options, including hiring a private garbage collection firm in the City of Naga.

Silveron admitted that the lifespan of the Inayawan landfill was supposed to end in 2005, so it no longer has the capacity to accept more garbage.

He also said that the agency has given the City ample time to comply with commitments they made to DENR in improving the management of the Inayawan landfill.

Silveron said that the Cebu City Government has expressed its willingness to comply with all of the conditions stated in their agreement.

He urged Cebu City constituents to support the City in its efforts to improve garbage collection and disposal.

Silveron urged constituents to continue the City’s practice of segregating trash before collection, as one way to prevent biodegradable waste from entering the landfill.

He also urged city garbage collectors to strictly implement the “no segregation, no collection” policy.

Mayor’s call

In a separate interview, lawyer Joseph Bernaldez, who heads the City Legal Office, said the decision to close or not to close the landfill is an exercise of the mayor’s prerogative.

“The prerogative is vested on him as the chief executive of the city. In short, that’s an executive decision. At most, it can only recommend or suggest on what to do with the landfill,” he added.

During their regular session, the council passed a resolution sponsored by Councilor Joel Garganera “urging” the executive department to close the landfill and implement the post-closure rehabilitation plan of the city.

They also approved Councilor James Cuenco’s motion “requesting” the executive to look into the possibility of imposing a moratorium on dumping garbage there, until the City fixes the violations DENR has pointed out.

Osmeña has already said the City Government will not stop using the Inayawan landfill because going back to Consolacion is not an option. His position is that the City is paying too much for tipping fees there.

The private sanitary landfill in Consolacion collected P700 for every ton of garbage thrown by the City. The City disposes of 300 to 500 tons of waste per day.

Despite the mayor’s pronouncement, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said yesterday he is willing to help the City find a solution to its garbage problem.

Rethinking

He will be talking to the owner of the facility in Consolacion and try to negotiate for a change in the tipping fee.

“I’m willing to help for as long as we can stop the dumping that has already taken a toll on the health and sanitation of the residents. Let us set aside party posturing because this is a very serious problem kining sa basura,” he said.

Labella, a lawyer and former director of the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, believes the Inayawan landfill should be closed because it is violating environmental laws.

Covering the garbage dumped in the Inayawan landfill with chemicals or soil is only a Band-Aid solution.

Asked how he can change the mayor’s mind about the continued use of the landfill, Labella said nothing is permanent.

“I hope that he will seriously reconsider his decision because we cannot go on dumping garbage there. It has taken a toll on health,” he said.
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