Cebu News

Sue city over P32M

Odessa O. Leyson - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña challenged the Asian Energy System Corp., which runs a privately-owned landfill in Consolacion town, to sue the city for not paying service fees amounting to P32 million for the use of its landfill.

“You file a case against me. Okay lang. That’s fine. If it goes to the Supreme Court and if SC says pay. I will pay you. The city will pay you,” he told reporters yesterday just after meeting with representative of the corporation.

Osmeña said he will not pay the amount asked for because the previous city administration did not sign a contract to enter into a formal agreement with Asian Energy for the use of its private landfill after the Inayawan landfill was ordered closed on January 15, 2015.

The amount represents the use of the private landfill from January to June this year.

He said this decision is based on his experience in 1988 when the Commission on Audit disallowed his signing of a P1.2-million compromise settlement with a private contractor for the construction of an abattoir in Barangay Basak-San Nicolas.

“Lisod kaayo na oi. Ako modawat sa disallowance. No thank you. Nabiktima na ko niana,” he said.

In a separate interview, Councilor Margarita Osmeña, deputy mayor on budget and finance, said only Cebu City did not sign a contract with Asian Energy while other Local Government Units using their landfill did. She said she does not know why the previous administration did not sign a contract.

“Other thing is that they have contracts with all the local governments who are doing business with them including private haulers,” she said.

No contract was mentioned during the mayor’s meeting with Asian Energy, but when reporters asked him if he would sign one with Asian Energy Osmeña said he is open to it as long as it is the best offer.

“No. We didn’t discuss that. I’m willing to do anything if it’s the best offer. I don’t have any bias against them. But I won’t pay them P32 million,” he said.

Osmeña also told reporters he is working on three parallel plans for the Inayawan landfill together with former councilor Nida Cabrera who is tasked to oversee the reopening of the landfill.

One plan is to put up a retaining wall around the landfill, covering it with soil and then eventually turning it into a golf course.

The second plan is to outsource trash to another landfill outside the city together with Mandaue City, which is presently using the Consolacion landfill.

The third plan is the implementation of a waste to energy program also with Mandaue City.

He said the city is working on different alternatives in order to address the situation of the landfill.

Meanwhile, Jasper Lucero, lawyer of Councilor Joel Garganera, already submitted the original copies of the affidavits and other documents supporting Garganera’s petition for a Writ of Kalikasan.

Garganera was earlier given 10 days by the Court of Appeals to rectify the affidavits with regards to his petition asking for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order against the city. The CA said the affidavits and other documents were just photocopies.

Failure to comply will result in the outright dismissal of the petition, the court order read.

Rule 130, Section 3 of Rules of Evidence in Court states that “the best evidence requires that the highest available degree of proof must be produced. For documentary evidence, the contents of document are best proved by the production of the document itself to the exclusion of secondary or substitutionary evidence.”

The said court decision was signed by associate justice chairman Edgardo Delos Santos, together with associate justices Edward Conteras and Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig.

Garganera said he is confident to get the TEPO because the evidence he submitted was not his personal findings but based on the reports submitted on his office by the Environment Management Bureau-7 and Department of Health.

He added the reason he submitted photocopies as evidence was so he could keep the original copies.

When sought for his comment on this matter, Osmeña just said, “Somebody will win and somebody will lose. What's important here is that first and foremost is the welfare and concerns of the people of Cebu. That's the highest concern. They are dramatizing this odor which I cannot smell maybe I have sinus,” he said.

Last September 23, Garganera filed the Writ of Kalikasan before the CA confronting the reopening of the landfill which violated environmental and sanitary laws.

 The said case was filed against the mayor, EMB-7 director Engineer William Cuñado and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 Regional Director Emma Melana. (FREEMAN)

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