SRP garbage issue: Compromise in sight

By: Inna Mejia, Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Victor Anthony V. Silva December 22,2016 - 11:55 PM
As the Cebu City government began to  dump the city’s garbage into a one-hectare lot at the South Road Properties (SRP) near condominiums, restaurants and a mall, the Movement for Liveable Cebu joined others in questioning its legality (CDN DRONE PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO).

As the Cebu City government began to dump the city’s garbage into a one-hectare lot at the South Road Properties (SRP) near condominiums, restaurants and a mall, the Movement for Liveable Cebu joined others in questioning its legality (CDN DRONE PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO).

A solution may now be in sight in addressing the garbage collection and disposal concerns of Cebu City, with city officials opting to cross party lines to solve the issue that has threatened to reach crisis proportions.

The opposition-dominated Cebu City Council is expected to hold a special session this afternoon in response to the request of Mayor Tomas Osmeña for the council to appropriate P9.2 million and grant him the authority to enter into a contract with a private hauler that will dispose of the city’s trash to a place outside of the now controversial temporary dumping area, the South Road Properties (SRP).

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, the presiding officer of the city council and a member of the opposition Team Rama, said they are willing to set aside politics in order to aid the executive department in solving the city’s garbage disposal problem.

“The issue of garbage is a matter of life and death. We can set aside partisan posturings in order to solve this problem. We have been suggesting to the mayor to negotiate with any other LGU (local government unit) with landfills. We just cannot allow the garbage to be scattered all over the City of Cebu,” he said yesterday.

He said that even if it is already two days before Christmas and some councilors may already have plans to go on vacation, they are still confident that they can achieve a quorum in today’s special session.

Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, who heads the city council’s committee on environment and also a Team Rama member, said they are also willing to cooperate with the solution being offered by Osmeña.

GARGANERA

GARGANERA

Garganera spearheaded the filing of an environmental case in the Court of Appeals that led to the closure of the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill, which was reopened by Osmeña after he assumed office in July and where over 500 tons of garbage were being dumped daily.

Garganera, who also protested the use of a vacant lot in SRP as a temporary dumping area after the Inawayan Landfill was ordered closed by the CA, and some councilors yesterday met with officials close to Osmeña where it was explained that the executive department plans to use a total of P9.2 million in unused funds from the 2016 budget for the emergency hiring of a service provider, which will bring the city’s garbage from the transfer station at the SRP to a final dumping site.

The meeting

“We told them that we already gave you (executive department) the authority. But just the same, for the sake of giving an impression that we support the move of the mayor, so be it. It’s okay,” Garganera said.

By today, the city will have already dumped six days’ worth of garbage at the one-hectare transfer station in the SRP near the building of the Department of Public Services (DPS). The city generates approximately 500 tons of garbage daily.

Among the officials present in the meeting, which was held at the mayor’s office in the eighth floor of City Hall, were the mayor’s executive assistant Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez, city legal officer Joseph Bernaldez, city budget officer Marietta Gumia, and other city hall department heads.

Councilor Margarita Osmeña and four other councilors from the minority bloc were also present.

From the majority bloc, Councilors Garganera and Jose Daluz III attended.

But Garganera wanted an assurance that the city would stop the operation of a transfer station at the SRP.

“My concern is where should the transfer station be. It’s a big no that it will be at the Inayawan landfill. It’s also a big no that it will be at the SRP or any other area that is prohibited by the national agency concerned,” he said.

This was why he suggested that the winning service provider should also provide a transfer station where the city and the barangays can dump their garbage temporarily before it is brought to an authorized landfill.

Fernandez earlier explained that under their terms of reference for the emergency procurement of the service provider, they will put a ceiling amount of P1,400 per ton of garbage to be paid by the city to the service provider.

The service provider will then be the one to provide the heavy equipment to haul the garbage from the SRP transfer station and transport it to a dumping site using their own dump trucks.

Inayawan  landfill

Inayawan landfill

He said his suggestion will be further discussed in today’s session.

Meanwhile, when sought for comment, Joel Yu, Osmeña’s point man on business and economic development, assured that the SRP transfer station will only be temporary as promised by the mayor.

“I don’t know. But I am of the belief that Mayor Osmeña is an intelligent person and that there is a reason why he is doing that, and the reason is maybe exactly what he claims: he has no other place to (dump). But I’m sure it’s not going to be a permanent thing,” Yu told Cebu Daily News.

The latest development between Osmeña and the City Council, he said, indicated that the city officials were already looking for ways to address this problem.

“They are working to solve it. Until that happens, let’s just see. I don’t want to speculate but they are working to solve it,” he said when asked what is his assurance to interested and future investors at the SRP that this is just temporary.

OSMEÑA

OSMEÑA

Beside the point

Osmeña, on the other hand, told reporters that he will not appear in the special session today but will be represented by Fernandez. The mayor also clarified that his decision to use SRP as a transfer station has nothing to do with his “hate” for the SM group, which operates SM Seaside Cebu, one of the country’s biggest mall complex.

“They say it is because I hate SM. Well, I hate SM but that is beside the point that I have no place to put it,” he said. The mayor also reiterated that the only reason he objected to using the privately operated landfill in Consolacion town was because the city government, under former mayor Michael Rama, used its services without the benefit of a contract.

If the council fails to grant him the authority to hire haulers, Osmeña said he will have no choice but to continue using SRP, despite the cease and desist order from the Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas (EMB-7.)

“I will just put the garbage there (SRP). Sorry. The alternative is to not collect the garbage. Even if they put me in jail, I will still collect the garbage,” he said.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu City Council, dumpsite, Filinvest, garbage, Garganera, landfill, SM, SRP

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