The Cebu City Department of Public Services (DPS) has been given another P40 million for the hauling of the city’s garbage for the month of May, causing opposition councilors to raise a furor that this administration is actually spending more in garbage disposal than the heavily criticized Rama administration.
The additional budget, approved by the City Council on Tuesday, means that City Hall will be spending P142.8 million for the first five months of this year alone for garbage hauling, or P7.8 million more than the P135 million that was spent for the whole year of 2016.
Councilor Joel Garganera pointed out that right now, the city is spending around P25 million a month for garbage disposal.
In the administration of former mayor Michael Rama, the average was only around P15 million a month, he said.
At this rate, the city will be spending more than P300 million for the entire year for garbage disposal, said Garganera.
“There is a huge jump in our budget for garbage disposal. I just hope that we hear from our people that our city is really clean,” added Councilor Jose Daluz III, also of Team Rama like Garganera.
To recall, the garbage disposal spending of the Rama administration was placed under close scrutiny by then mayoral candidate Tomas Osmeña over alleged questionable arrangement with the owner of the private landfill in Consolacion town where the city dumped its waste, as well as the high cost it entailed.
Osmeña, after he assumed office in July last year, halted the city’s deal with the private landfill owner, saying it was illegal since the city had no valid contract with the private landfill and only had purchase orders.
However, in the current setup, the city also only has purchase orders as its form of contract with the private hauling firm Jomara Konstruckt Corp.
The city government paid Jomara P25 million for garbage hauling fees in January and allocated another P77.8 million for its hauling contract with Jomara up to April 30. But the P77.8 million is projected to be exhausted by April 25, said DPS assistant head John Paul Gelasque yesterday.
He explained why: “It is expected to end earlier because the volume of our garbage has exceeded the average of 600 tons per day.
It is now at 670 tons per day or more. This is why our budget is short of the April 30 target.”
During the Cebu City Council’s regular session last Tuesday afternoon, the DPS’ request was discussed and eventually approved by the members of the council, albeit with several clarifications.
Gelasque explained that the additional P40.8-million budget will be good for another 35 to 40 days or roughly until the end of May.
This is based on the current setup where Jomara has to provide the transfer station where the city and its barangays can dump garbage.
Jomara will also be the one to transport the garbage to the private landfill in Consolacion town, the same landfill used during the previous administration. Cebu City pays Jomara P1,350 per ton of garbage for this contract.
Gelasque clarified, though, that the P40.8 million will have to be bid out again and will not automatically go to Jomara.
DPS proposed to realign the P40.8 million from its approved budget this year intended for the rental of heavy and other equipment, he said.
According to Gelasque, they had wanted to propose a P250-million budget for garbage hauling from May to December this year but decided to put it on hold since the mayor’s office and the city budget office have yet to submit a supplemental budget to the City Council.
“We were waiting for a supplemental budget, but there is no plan yet from the mayor and the budget office. So we looked for a budget we can use,” Gelasque said.
He said they can realign their budget for heavy equipment rental since there is no need to rent any equipment yet while garbage hauling is more important at this time.
Gelasque said among the reasons why the city’s daily garbage volume has increased is the city’s ongoing “Basura Mo, Sardinas Ko” program that encourages residents to exchange a bagful of their garbage with one to two cans of sardines.
The project is now piloted in Barangays Lahug and Cogon Pardo where there are sitios located near creeks that often become the dumping area of garbage for the residents.
All the garbage collected by the city end up in the transfer station in Inayawan before these are brought to Consolacion.
Councilor Edu Rama, who was part of the city’s garbage program team during the previous administration when he was still not a city councilor, noted the new setup that required all barangays to use the temporary dumping station in Inayawan was impractical since north district barangays like Pit-os and Talamban, which are already near Consolacion, will have to go all the way back to Inayawan in the south district to dump their garbage at the transfer station of Jomara.
Despite their concerns and comments, the City Council still approved the budget realignment request of DPS. But they scheduled an executive session with DPS, the city budget officer, city treasurer and city accountant on April 25 to discuss the city’s garbage disposal program and how it can be improved.
The DPS had an approved budget of P121 million for its garbage disposal, but it lasted only until April. Gelasque said part of the budget was also set aside for the salaries of the department’s job order personnel for the entire year.