Despite opposition from the municipal council, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) ordered the â€œimmediate operationâ€ of the Alburquerque Cluster Sanitary Landfill (ACSLF) in Alburquerque.
In a memorandum issued on February 8, 2017 to its regional office in Cebu City, EMB In-Charge of the Office of the Director and concurrent Assistant Director Jacqueline Caancan directed Regional Director William CuÃ±ado of EMB-Region 7 to â€œorganize a dialogueâ€ involving the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) and the Mayor of Alburquerque, the contractor of the ACSLF, the Tourism Infrastructure and Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the rest of the 17 cluster-member municipalities.
The memorandum also ordered the EMB7 to “facilitate the immediate operation of the cluster SLF, as provided for in Republic Act 9003 known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of Â 2003”.
The directive from the EMB central office came on the heels of the passage of two (2) resolutions by the SB of Alburquerque one of which requests the â€œintercessionâ€ of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco and the other, of President Rodrigo Duterte, â€œto defer the final operation of the sanitary landfillâ€ facility.
The two SB resolutions adopted by the SB on September 26, 2016 have been endorsed to the Presidential Action Center (PACE) in MalacaÃ±ang, and was forwarded to the EMB Director Caancan.
Moreover, the EMB national director required a complete written report on the conduct of the dialogue.
The waste disposal facility located in Barangay Dangay, Albur has been operational starting last month.
The SB in Resolution No. 125 series of 2016 expressed their opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte seeking his intercession to defer the final operation of the ACSLF.
The SB cited several reasons for their opposition to the operation of the long-delayed PhP300 million 6.9 hectare ACSLF located in Barangay Dangay.
Among the reasons mentioned by the SB resolution was the failure of the Mayor to provide an update on the status of the landfill and their non-representation in meetings concerning the ACSLF.
The SB also brought up the issue of the former Mayor Efren Tungol’sÂ assurance not to accept the landfill unless the contractor correct lapses/deficiencies as presented by the former mayor before the SB session.
A resolution was passed by the SB requesting TIEZA to terminate the contract with Lourel Construction based on the report of the former mayor.
The SB also questioned the inclusion of six more towns as part of the cluster raising the original members to 17.
According to the SB resolution, they were not informed of the actions taken by the contractor to rectify the reported deficiencies.
Former Mayor Tungol created a Municipal Inspectorate Team to monitor the progress and compliance byÂ the contractor of the stringent requirements of a landfill.
The resolution was sponsored by Councilor Don Ritchie BuatesÂ and Adriana Milo.
In response to the SB opposition, Albur Mayor Elpren Charles Tungol on Friday sent letters to Governor Edgar Chatto, Presidential Action Center (PACE) Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta Teh and EMB Director Caancan which basically urged said officials disregard the opposition of the municipal council.
In his letter, Mayor Tungol pointed out that both SB resolutions are â€œlegally infirmedâ€.
According to the mayor, â€œthe two purported Resolutions indicate that these are mere â€˜excerpts of the minutesâ€™ of the SB session on September 26, 2016.â€
However, Mayor Tungol argued, â€œthere is nothing on the excerpts that would show that the said Resolutions were deliberated, discussed and voted upon by the members of the Sanggunian. In fact, there is nothing on record to show that the said Resolutions were approved or disapproved as no voting sheet was attached to the excerpts of said September 26, 2016 session.â€
â€œA voting sheet would have shown who among the Sanggunian members voted for or against the said measure,â€ the mayor explained.
The mayor likewise said that the 2 resolutions are â€œimbued with public interest, so much so that if it is given cognizance by the addressees (President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco), it will affect not only the Municipality of Alburquerque, but all the other 17 local government units comprising the cluster that rely on the sanitary landfill for their waste disposal.â€
Tungol added that since the resolutions impinge on public policy and will surely affect the development and investment plan of the Municipality of Alburquerque and the other cluster-member-LGUs, the mayor should be allowed to exercise his veto powers.
The Albur mayor cited Paragraph (b), Section 55 of the Local Government Code which specifically empowers the mayor to veto any ordinance or resolution that affects theÂ localÂ development planÂ andÂ public investment programÂ of the municipality.
â€œWhile the mayor is generally empowered to veto ordinances, under the just-cited Section 55(b) of the Code, the local chief executive is clearly allowed to veto a Resolution when it deals with local development plans and public investment programs,â€ he said.
According to Tungol, by the very language of the SB resolutions, â€œit leaves no doubt that these will have an effect on the municipal development and investment plan, and therefore requires the approval of the mayor as it is also within the scope of the veto powers of the local chief executive.â€
However, the Sanggunian never transmitted copies of said resolutions to the Office of the Mayor.
INCLUSION OF ADDITIONAL LGUs IN CLUSTER
Mayor Tungol, in his letters, defended his father, former mayor Efren Tungol, during whose term the memorandum of agreement to include Tagbilaran City and four other municipalities in the cluster.
In the SB resolutions, the municipal council questioned the addition of cluster-member municipalities, bringing the total number of cluster-members to 17.
Tungol said that the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by the former mayor is not analogous to a â€œcontractâ€ as contemplated under the Local Government Code (RA 7160) and the Procurement Law (RA 9184), which requires prior authority from the Sangguniang Bayan.
â€œThe required authority from the Sanggunian before the Municipal Mayor may enter into contracts specifically refer to the procurement of goods, infrastructure projects and services. It does not encompass a MOA which does not involve the expenditure or disbursement of municipal or government funds, or one which binds the municipality to an obligation involving public funds,â€ Tungol clarified.
Tungol added that the MOA entered into by the former mayor were already covered by 2 prior SB resolutions, particularly SB Resolution No. 14, Series of 2003; and SB Resolution No. 75, Series of 2005, which both authorized the former mayor to sign and enter into MOAs with government agencies such as the DENR and â€œother component LGUsâ€.
â€œThe force and effect of Resolution No. 14, S. 2003 and Resolution No. 75, S. 2005, remained and continued to be operative and applicable when the former mayor entered into and signed a MOA that increased to 17 the number of cluster-member municipalities for the landfill facility. Essentially, the former mayor possessed a valid continuing authorization by the Sangguniang Bayan to represent the municipality in the signing of memorandums of agreement with other component LGUs,â€ the mayor concluded.Â (Chito M. Visarra)