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Residents of barangay Kalunasan in Cebu City yesterday voiced in a public hearing their opposition to the city government’s plan to convert Osmeña Park into a public cemetery.

But Cebu City South District Rep. Tomas Osmeña told residents they should “give support” to the minority group Evangelical Christian Coalition Inc. that would benefit from the creation of a cemetery.

He said residents should be unselfish to the non-Catholic group. In a petition submitted to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, hundreds of Kalunasan residents said Osmeña Park, which is inside their residential barangay is not a suitable site for a cemetery.

They said they are worried the creation of the cemetery would compromise public health. “The cemetery will contaminate the ground water which is the source of drinking water of the residents around the shrine,” their petition read.
“It will adversely affect the water quality.”

In addition, the residents said the separation of the Church and State would be violated if the government donated land to the Evangelical Christian Coalition Inc.
Kalunasan barangay captain Nunilon Monares Jr. said Osmeña promised more programs for the barangay.

Osmeña said he will install a water treatment facility to ensure that runoff from the cemetery will not contaminate the barangay’s water sources. The congressman also said he will widen roads to ease access to the cemetery and decongest the barangay.

The lush 10-hectare Osmeña Park is owned by the city government. Osmeña announced plans to convert the park into a cemetery in 2009 towards the end of his last term as Cebu City mayor. “Let this be the last official act of the Osmeñas in the city. I am proposing that we convert the Don Sergio Shrine site as a Don Sergio Osmeña interfaith memorial park for the urban poor and for the people from various faith,” he said.