CEBU CITY—Mayor Tomas Osmeña has castigated Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino for his purported failure to check the truth behind the allegation that the mayor agreed to dump 5,000 metric tons of garbage from South Korea at the landfill in Barangay Inayawan here.
Osmeña described as a “blatant lie” the allegation of a certain Felix S. Lopez Jr. who wrote to President Rodrigo Duterte, saying the mayor agreed that the garbage be dumped at Inayawan.
Rep. Gwen Garcia, the former Cebu governor, had led a hearing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday on how the mixed trash from South Korea “sneaked out” of the Bureau of Customs in Cebu and to look into allegations that local government officials colluded to have the shipment dumped at Inayawan.
But Osmeña said the House committee on ecology, chaired by Garcia, should also ask Dino if his office “conducted due diligence in checking the veracity of the contents starting with the identity of the letter sender, before forwarding this to the higher offices concerned.”
“After all, Dino is supposedly the assistant of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Visayas. Is it not his job to conduct due diligence before anything gets forwarded to Malacañang?” Osmeña said.
Elvira Cruz, Customs Port of Cebu district collector, has strongly denied involvement in the release of the shipment that arrived in Cebu from Jeju Port in South Korea on Jan. 20.
Cruz assumed office as district collector of the Port of Cebu on Jan. 19. On Feb. 8, she issued a warrant of seizure and detention against the shipment for intentional misdeclaration.
The shipment was delivered to a warehouse in Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City and the trash was eventually dumped in an open dumpsite in Barangay Tingub, not in Barangay Inayawan.
Of the five million kilos of trash, 250,000 kilos was shipped back to South Korea last March, while the remaining 250,000 kilos stored at the Guizo warehouse was declared abandoned by BOC-Cebu.
Port of Cebu Customs examiner Dennis Adisas admitted not examining the shipment physically.
He said he only examined the shipment documents and relied on the Port Load of Survey Report from the port of origin. The Port Load of Survey Report stated the shipment contained recyclable plastic resins and wood chips.
Osmeña then asked the House committee to ascertain Lopez’ identity to “ensure we are not taken for a ride by somebody because of amusement or malice.”
During the hearing, Osmeña’s executive assistant, Francisco Fernandez, denied the mayor’s involvement in the shipment.
“We have nothing to do with this shipment. In fact, we were surprised we are linked on this shipment that came out from the Port of Cebu which is not our jurisdiction. We do not want to dignify this. This is without any basis at all. We deny this completely,” Fernandez said.
“It would be very unlikely to ship garbage to Cebu City when the Inayawan landfill was controversial and we even lost (a case about it) at the Court of Appeals,” he pointed out.
The Inayawan landfill was ordered closed by the court on December 15, 2016 for violating environmental laws.