Giving Osmeña the benefit of the doubt on the garbage problem

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc December 22,2016 - 08:45 PM
BAÑOC

BAÑOC

In fairness to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, he also has his valid and practical reasons for making the South Road Properties (SRP) the temporary transfer station of the mountainous garbage of the city.

Last Tuesday, I interviewed Osmeña in my “Straight to the Point” radio program on the matter, and he articulately explained his points on-air. At that time, the 2017 annual budget was not yet approved. In the afternoon of the same day, the city council finally approved the budget.

Let me simplify the point of the mayor the way I understood his explanation. He said that after the Court of Appeals ordered the closure of the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill, he acknowledged and complied with the said order. He said that he immediately followed the order because he did not want to be cited in contempt of court if he disobeyed.

Hence he directed the Department of Public Services (DPS) not to dump the garbage anymore at Inayawan landfill and instead use the portion of SRP as temporary transfer station. So starting last Saturday, the 500 tons average of daily garbage of the city have been placed at SRP.

This incident caused the latest garbage controversy. Many commented against him for not following the steps of former mayor Mike Rama to dump the garbage at Consolacion landfill. Osmeña, however, alleged that what Rama did was a violation of the law because the usage of Consolacion landfill did not undergo bidding procedure and it was not covered by a contract. He added that it was a clear act of graft and corruption. He said he cannot afford to violate the law, more so if it pertains to graft and corruption.

The mayor justified that he cannot find a place owned by the city where to temporarily place the garbage other than the SRP. He said he cannot afford to place it on other city-owned properties like Plaza Independencia, Senior Citizens’ Park, etc. because to do so is to be inhuman, considering that they are inhabited places or nearer the residences and business establishments.

The mayor emphasized that the use of SRP is only temporary. He has been looking for a place where to permanently place the garbage and, in fact, that step is documented. He pointed out that it cannot be quickly done because of the procedures to be followed in running government institution as against private corporations.

He also accused the Team Rama dominated council as a factor that contributes to the delay in solving the garbage problem because his proposed budget of P600 million to solve the problem was slashed down to P85 million only. In fact, according to him, he could not even bid it out for he did not have even a single peso because the budget at that time was not yet approved at all.

So in the meantime, the usage of SRP is the most practical way under the circumstances. But in doing so, he is also violating the environmental law according to the DENR, because of the ECC factor and the term “transfer station” connotes that the garbage should be removed from there after 24 hours.

Hence, according to Osmeña, he is left with very limited options to either follow strictly the letter of the law by not dumping the garbage at Inayawan, Consolacion or SRP — which would, consequently, not force him to collect the garbage and just allow them to scatter on the streets, near to homes and commercial establishments — or collect the garbage in the city and break the law by placing the garbage at SRP temporarily.

Osmeña said he chose the second option because he is more concerned of the health of the Cebuanos, notwithstanding the fact that he may violate the technicalities of the environmental laws. This is an incident of choosing between the letters of the law or the actual and real action based on the present circumstances.

I understand the predicament of Osmeña during my interview because at that time the council had not yet approved the 2017 budget. However, now that the budget has already been approved, although the garbage solving budget was slashed down to P85 million, then the ball now is backed to Osmeña’s court.

The people will now urge him to find a quick solution according to the approved budget. Anyway, as councilor Joel Garganera said, the mayor can always ask for a supplemental budget later for a valid reason.

For now, Osmeña has to solve the problem within the available resources. His ability and smartness to govern in times of crises will be tested here. As the saying goes, a good ship captain’s ability will not be tested when the sea is calm, but when the ship encounters storms and rough seas.

Now that the mayor has already the budget support, if he still fails or purposely causes a delay in transferring the garbage to a permanent dumpsite, then that will be the time for the people to ripen their suspicion that he is running after the locators or businesses such as SM, Filinvest, etc. at SRP in a very foul way.

This is a make or break situation for Osmeña.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, dumpsite, garbage, Inayawan landfill, public service, service, Site, SRP, Tomas Osmeña, trash

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