It must have grated Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s nerves to have to appear in a City Council session like any other common resource person to explain his budget for garbage collection and disposal to the council dominated by his political enemies.
At the same time, it may have also been gratifying for the mayor’s political enemies, the Team Rama bloc, to have finally gotten the mayor off his office and into their presence so they can question him on the details of his budget which they have reduced because of what they feel was the mayor’s failure to justify it.
Regardless of their personal and political animosity, at the very least the session was the closest public meeting between two opposing camps, which should be done quite often since they’re paid to serve the interests of city residents.
But the council’s support didn’t come unanimously as they voted 8–7 to allow the mayor to spend P9.2 million in unspent savings last year to pay for a private hauler that will handle the transfer and disposal of the city’s daily 300 tons plus of garbage at least for the end of this year and the first two weeks of next month, both heavy in terms of volume due to the holidays and the Sinulog observance.
What weren’t obviously discussed in last week’s session were the long-term plans to finally resolve the garbage collection and disposal problem as the mayor proposed that the private sector handle it for a year until they can bid out the services and find a permanent or longer-term plan for the garbage collection and disposal.
Which is easier said than done, as Mayor Osmena has been adamant about not going back to the private landfill facility in Consolacion town despite the prodding of Councilor Joel Garganera and other councilors identified with the previous Rama administration.
What is clear is that the Court of Appeals ruled against a return to the Inayawan landfill, though the mayor is filing a motion for reconsideration on the ruling. But the mayor should not act out of isolation, or unilaterally without considering the costs to the environment or the community when it comes to the garbage problem.
Used to getting his own way without brooking any opposition, the mayor should not use money and the need to save on finances for his pet scholarship program as a reason to cut corners in solving the garbage problem.
It’s not just the developers with whom he has a beef with as well as his political enemies who will suffer from his decision to dump the garbage at the South Road Properties but also those who bought homes in the area and the students of schools and the communities who live near it. For once, the mayor and the council have a shared responsibility to their constituents in these areas and to Cebu City at large to find an equitable and sustainable solution to the city’s garbage problem.
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