Tom has final say on landfill

Odessa O. Leyson (The Freeman) - September 8, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Mayor Tomas Osmeña has the last say on the operation of the controversial landfill in Barangay Inayawan.

"The decision to close or not is an exercise of the mayor's prerogative. Said prerogative is vested on him as the chief executive of the city.

In short, that's an executive decision. Therefore, the City Council cannot impose its will on the mayor as to what to do with the landfill," said City Legal Officer Joseph Bernaldez.

Last Tuesday, the City Council passed a resolution urging the executive department to close the landfill immediately because of its "worsening situation."

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, the council's presiding officer, also urged Osmeña to close the facility.

"Actually, the mandate is given to DENR that's why the resolution is to urge the mayor to seriously reconsider to close the landfill because there is a law that the landfill should be closed. I hope that the executive will take heed on this," he told reporters yesterday.

"I hope that he will seriously reconsider his decision because we cannot go on dumping garbage there, aside from the violations of law, it is taken at all on health," Labella added.

Bernaldez said, however, that the council can only recommend action and Osmeña will make the final decision.

Last Sunday, the city met with stakeholders following successive complaints over the foul smell emanating from the landfill.

At the end of the meeting, the city said it will put "interventions" in place, including spraying enzymes on the garbage to contain the foul smell, covering the garbage with soil in order to level the waste, and making use of bulldozers donated by the Cebu Contractors Association.           

Labella said these interventions are but a "band aid" solution.

Osmeña has refused to bring the city's garbage to the landfill in Consolacion town because the city would need to pay P20 million per month for the tipping fee alone.

Labella said he is willing to negotiate with the owner to reduce the fee.

"I am willing to help. Find a way that we can look for a landfill. If there were some alleged irregularities on the manner in which the Consolacion landfill… if there were alleged… maybe we can find a way to rectify or do something for us to be able to get a landfill if this is the available landfill because I know kining Consolacion is really available… It's just a matter of negotiating," he said.

The violations at the landfill include the failure to secure discharge permit if it conform with the standard of EMB-7, failure to strictly enforce the use of Personal Protective Equipment for workers, failure to sustain a good parameter fence and prevent illegal entry or squatting persons in the area, failure to implement strict measures on disposal of hazardous or hospital waste in the area and failure to provide cover for all garbage trucks to prevent blowing or flying filter around.

Other violations are, failure to put soil covering for each waste after spreading, failure to strictly prohibit the scavenging of waste materials inside the site, failure to efficiently operate the leachate plant and landfill glass flaring system, failure to provide Environmental Guarantee Fund, failure to present the Operation Manual, failure to show reports of monitoring for biological and chemical parameters, failure to conduct monitoring for biological and chemical parameters, and air and water verbal complaints were noted which is sufficient cause for suspension or revocation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate.

For its part, the Environmental Management Bureau-7 said it is open to whatever decision the city government will have on the operation of the landfill. It hopes, however, that the city will prioritize the environmental concerns rather than the officials' respective interests.

Should the city decide to close it, the EMB said the landfill would still need to rehabilitate the facility because the "crisis" over the waste there will remain. — with May B. Miasco/JMO (FREEMAN)

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