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PROPERTY RULES

The ill-fated Inayawan Sanitary Landfill

/ 05:46 AM September 29, 2018

The 15-ha Inayawan Sanitary Landfill (ISL) was Cebu City’s only waste disposal site since 1998.

Households accounted for much of the waste disposed at ISL at 54 percent, followed by institutions and food establishments tied at 21 percent, and public markets at 4 percent, according to the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies Centre (IGESC) and United Nations Environment Programme’s (UN Environment Programme) published report entitled “Planning and Implementation of Integrated Solid Waste Management Strategies at Local Level: The Case of Cebu City.”

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In 2010, however, ISL reached its maximum capacity because of “lack of adequate expertise in utilizing and maintaining the landfill equipment and facilities, insufficient financial resources for operation and maintenance coupled with the increasing volume of waste being disposed in [ISL] daily.”

Worse, the Department of Health declared that the ISL poses a public health risk.

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Thus, ISL was converted into a waste transfer station—that is, as described by IGESC and UN Environment Programme, “solid waste collected from various parts of the city was brought to the site and manually sorted by as many as 300 waste pickers, after which the remaining waste was reloaded and transported to a private landfill facility located approximately 30 kilometers away in northern Cebu province.”

ISL was closed in 2015, but reopened in 2016. Thus, Joel Capili Garganera filed a petition for writ of kalikasan with prayer for the issuance of a Temporary Environmental Protection Order against City Mayor of Cebu Tomas R. Osmeña with the Court of Appeals.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals granted the privilege of said writ and ordered Osmeña and/or his representatives to permanently cease and desist from dumping or disposing garbage or solid waste at ISL. Thereafter, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision in Osmeña v. Garganera.

ISL is one among the landfills whose operations ceased upon the court’s issuance of a writ of kalikasan.

According to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, a writ of kalikasan is a remedy available to a natural or juridical person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, non-governmental organization, or any public interest group accredited by or registered with any government agency, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

A petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan must: (a) be verified; and (b) contain the following: (i) petitioner’s personal circumstances; (ii) respondent’s name and personal circumstances or if they were unknown and uncertain, his assumed appellation; (iii) the environmental law, rule or regulation violated or threatened to be violated, the act or omission complained of, and the environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces; (iv) all relevant and material evidence consisting of the affidavits of the witnesses, documentary evidence, scientific or other expert studies, and if possible, object evidence; and (v) certification of non-forum shopping.

In the Osmeña case, the Supreme Court declared that the environmental damage must be sufficiently grave, in terms of the territorial scope of such damage, so as to call for the grant of a writ of kalikasan. The gravity of environmental damage sufficient to grant said writ is, thus, to be decided on a case-to-case basis.

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In issuing the writ enjoining Osmeña and his representatives from continuing with the dumping operations in ISL, the Supreme Court held that the evidence on record sufficiently established serious environmental concerns therefrom, such as air and water pollution among Cebu City and neighboring localities, and foul odor that disrupted activities, such as those in SM Seaside, and caused economic loss.

Moreover, the Supreme Court declared that, “[A]s much as this Court recognizes the parties’ good intention and sympathize with the dilemma of Mayor Osmeña or the City Government in looking for its final disposal site, considering the garbage daily disposal of 600 tons generated by the city and its duty to provide basic services and facilities of garbage collection and disposal system… the continued operation of the Inayawan landfill poses a serious and pressing danger to the environment that could result in injurious consequences to the health and lives of the nearby residents, thereby warranting the issuance of a writ of kalikasan.”

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