Fear of ‘ghosts,’ wrong land use
LAWYER Lito Astillero said enrollment in his school, Lyceum of Cebu, dropped after news of the lot donation became public. He didn’t cite figures though.
He said students were afraid of expecting ghosts (moo-moo”).
The school is located below the proposed burial site.
“If you push through, I am afraid that our school will have to shut down,” he said.
The Lyceum of Cebu enrolls pre-school to college students.
Councilor Margot Osmeña reminded the lawyer he was dealing with wrong notions.
“As an educator, isn’t that your responsibility to correct the misconception?” she asked.
Councilor Ronald Cuenco cited the example of Angelicum, a private cemetery across the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu school in Canduman, Mandaue City. Students never complained of having seen ghosts there, he said.
WRONG LAND USE
Lahug barangay councilor Mary Ann delos Santos said that while the Osmeña Shrine was classified as a “rural residential” area, its tax declaration described it as “agricultural land” used as a cornfield.
She said the lot falls within her barangay and is zoned as “rural residential.”
“The city cannot be arrogant to violate its own zoning,” she said.
She also told the council that it was illegal to allow a sectarian group to use a government property.
“This is a violation of the constitution which provides for the separation of church and state,” she said.
On residents fears, she pointed out that the Sanitary Code requires cemeteries to be located at least 25 sq. meters away from residential areas.
“Its donation (in May 2010) was only advantageous to officials who were seeking reelection then. The act of donating during the election period was within the election ban,” she said.
She said if Lahug had been told about the lot donation, it would have held a public consultation.
She said Beverly Hills residents alerted Lahug officials only recently about the use of the Osmeña Shrine.
Delos Santos was reminded to keep to her three-minute time limit for remarks.
Councilors then had Delos Santos’ mention of the May 2010 election and “arrogance” struck off the secretariat’s records.
The barangay captain walked out of the session hall immediately after that.
Edmundo Vinzon, head of the Villa Remedios Homeowners Association, said that a cemetery may restrict the road network and prevent economic growth.
Councilor Alvin Dizon asked Vinzon if he has seen the development plan for the proposed cemetery.
Vinzon said “no.”
“Then why do you conclude that trees will be cut down?” Dizon asked.
Dizon also asked if Vinzon has a study to back his claim of water contamination. Vinzon answered with another “no.”
OSMEñA: MINORITY BENEFIT
Rep. Osmena said he can understand the distaste for living near a cemetery.
He said his own mother objected when he decided to allow Cosmopolitan funeral homes to operate in Nivel Hills. His mother had wanted to build a house near the area.
“I just said that we cannot have a city that will ban cemeteries like landfills. Where will the people put its dead and garbage if we do not have a cemetery and landfill?”
Osmena said donating city land for a cemetery wasn’t new to him.
When he was mayor, the city donated two hectares in the mountain barangay of Guba for a Muslim cemetery.
The benefit, he said, was cooperation.
“We already see that the Christians and the Muslims are in harmony because we gave them a cemetery in the mountains,” he said.
Osmeña said the city has nothing to lose with the donation of the Osmeña Shrine lot because it has remained idle.
“Your city is not only a city government fort the Catholics. In a democracy the majority rules, but the minority also have rights. It is a responsibility of the city to protect the minority and to make them part of the community and not to be treated as second class,” he said.