Tomas promises Pasil residents: No demolitions for third bridge

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - July 18, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he will not allow the displacement of informal settlers along the banks of the Guadalupe Ri-ver in Barangay Pasil because of the cons-truction of Cebu-Cordova Bridge project.

"I'm not going to accept any demolitions in Pasil," he said, adding that he has not seen the design of the P27.9 billion bridge yet.

The proponent of the bridge project is Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp., which is as of now processing the permits for the construction of the 8.25-kilometer Cebu-Cordova Bridge Project that will connect Cebu City to Mactan Island through Cordova.

Osmeña also expressed his concern that the city government should not disburse public funds on the project.

Further, Barangay Pasil has issued a resolution defying the proposed construction of the bridge between Cebu City and Cordova that will traverse perpendicular along the Guadalupe River.

The new members of Cebu City Council referred the resolution to the committee on infrastructure headed by Councilor Jerry Guardo.

In the resolution, the Pasil Barangay Council acknowledged the benefits that the residents of the city, especially those in the South District, would get because of the project. However, they expressed concerns Pasil residents may be displaced because of it.

"To overview, the proposed project displaced mostly of our residents along the Guadalupe River, hence a proposed 7.5 meter-road right of way, along the river is to be constructed. Likewise, we believe that the project creates a hazard to our community," the resolution read.

Pasil Barangay Captain Julius Guioguio said the affected areas in the barangay are sitios Lawis, Lawis Riverside, Concepcion Riverside, Tikaban Riverside. However, he does not have the total figure of families who may be affected.

"Ang reason namo sa pag-oppose kay murag risgo sa among dapit. Diha sa sapa, naay mga residents. Niingon man sila nga 7.5 meters on each side sa Guadalupe River ang makuha sa project so daghan gyud ang maapektahan. Aside niana, saba sad kaayo. Ma-disturbo ang tulog sa mga resident. Kana lang ganing naay moagi nga mga sakyanan sa SRP madungog na man gani namo kada gabii. Dako kaayo na nga trabahuon unya naay mga residente ubos sa taytayan," he said.

Sought for comment, MPTDC's lawyer Aristotle Batuhan said the proponent has already discussed some concerns of the new administration under Osmeña.

As to the disbursement of public funds, the proponent reiterates its position that the local government units will not have cash-out in the project.

As to the possible displacement, Batuhan said the proponent assures both LGUs that it will abide by their decision.

Batuhan explained that the project in the Cebu City side will have two access points – one on the South Road Properties and the other one on the banks of the Guadalupe River.

To recall, the original proposal did not include the Guadalupe River. It was former mayor Michael Rama's administration that insisted on its inclusion.

"When the city previously insisted on the Guadalupe River access, we revised the alignment a bit to accommodate that, but if the city does not want that, that's their stand. Basta, the project can stand even without that," he said.

When asked if the change in city administration will have any impact on the progress of the project, Batuhan said the proponent also took this into consideration and this cannot cause the delay of project implementation.

Batuhan said the proponent can always adjust the design of the project to accommodate the concerns of the local government units. He said Cordova town had concerns regarding its mangroves and the proponent adjusted the design of the bridge accordingly.

"That's an example nga we are open to adjusting the design to meet the concerns of LGUs," he said.

As to the city's side, Batuhan said the proponent was told the previous administration had plans to relocate informal settlers who are occupying the three-meter easement zone. He said the city government was responsible for the right of way on the end of the Guadalupe River, which will not cost anything since easement zone is not alienable and disposable.

"The additional design was suggested by the city. So, if the city will say now nga dili na nila buhaton, then we will look at an alternative. Several alternative designs nga walay maigo even sa easement," he said.

Batuhan said there was also a suggestion that the columns be built on the river itself instead of the easement of the riverbank, but this may need the approval of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

As to the concern of Barangay Pasil, which is now pending before the City Council, Batuhan said the process will not go back to the City Council because it has already granted the authority to sign the Joint Venture Agreement last April.

Batuhan asked the Municipality of Cordova and Cebu City government to compose its respective Technical Working Groups so it can work closely with the proponent. He said the proponent needs the representatives of both LGUs in the processing of requirements from the national government agencies.

"Ang design is really subject to detailed engineering. That is why the important tasks is to constitute the TWG so that we can tweak the alignment of the project," he said.

As to the possible number of residents that will be displaced, Batuhan said he has yet to get the report of the private company that conducted the public hearing and public scoping.

As of now, Batuhan said MPTDC is still sticking to the projected start of the construction in the third quarter of 2017. It is seen to be completed in 2020. (FREEMAN)


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