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ARN Builders seeks Cebu City permit

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita June 15,2017 - 10:35 PM


Despite being embroiled in controversy earlier this year, a private contractor is pushing for the construction of a 10-hectare sanitary landfill in Barangay Binaliw, Cebu City.

ARN Builders is now asking for a variance permit from the Cebu City Zoning Board (CCZB) which will allow them to officially construct the landfill in Sitio Kainsikan in the mountains of Barangay Binaliw.

A public hearing on the landfill proposal was held briefly on Thursday at City Hall before the zoning board decided to reset the hearing some other day due to several concerns raised including the absence of concerned lot owners in the area, the Binaliw barangay captain and other village officials.

ARN Builders, represented by Rolan Cabonilas, the firm’s technical head, also failed to show a copy of their Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) which, they said, they were able to acquire from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office in Manila and not the DENR regional office in Central Visayas.

Committee on environment chairperson and Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera lamented that the group seemed to be making shortcuts in order to push through with their project.

“I’m not against the landfill. We need that. But why all these shortcuts?” Garganera said in an interview after the hearing.

“They’re fueling my speculation that maybe ARN Builders is so aggressive with this because somebody is backing them up. Maybe they are being supported by Nida Cabrera,” he told reporters.

It was Garganera who first exposed ARN Builders’ ongoing quarrying operations in Binaliw last April.

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 stepped in and issued a cease and desist order against the project which was viewed as illegal pending pertinent documents and permits that ARN Builders had yet to secure, EMB-7 said.

Earlier this week, Cabrera, head of the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CCENRO) announced that ARN Builders already secured an ECC for the project.

But instead of EMB-7, she said the contractor obtained their ECC from the EMB central office in Manila.

Garganera accused Cabrera of “lawyering” and “representing” ARN Builders.

Sought for comments, Cabrera, who had left for Manila, denied the accusation in a talk with Cebu Daily News over the phone.

“I am not here (in Manila) to process. I am here for two different seminars. They were the ones who worked for the approval of their documents since we were the ones who required them to do so,” she said through the phone in Cebuano.

Cabrera explained that she did not help the contractor process their documents but only advised them to secure their ECC in Manila based on a supposed DENR memorandum that landfill projects of this scale should apply for their ECC directly at the central office.

Showing reporters a copy of the DENR memorandum, Garganera belied Cabrera’s claims.

The memorandum dated February 2, 2017 and issued by DENR-EMB Director Jacqueline Caancan stated five projects which needed the DENR secretary’s direct approval for ECC applications: nonrenewable energy; monoculture plantation over five hectares; genetic modification; reclamation or land restoration; and projects using persistent organic pollutants.

Garganera pointed out that the DENR memo did not include landfills.

He also recounted that EMB-7 already refused to grant an ECC for ARN Builders’ landfill project due to several inconsistencies and violations found during an inspection conducted by the local bureau.

Meanwhile, Cabrera questioned Garganera’s motives in accusing her of favoring and helping the contractor and if indeed the opposition councilor was really working for the betterment of the city.

Cabrera said that having a sanitary landfill within the city can help City Hall save on expenses for garbage collection and disposal.

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TAGS: ARN, Builders, city, DENR, permit

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