For opposition councilors: Osmeña ‘sitting’ on flood problem

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - September 22, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines —  When it rains, it floods in Cebu City.

What then is Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s administration doing to combat the problem?

For some opposition councilors, nothing.

Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, at a press conference yesterday, said that if Osmeña truly had the drive to solve flooding, the problem would have long been solved since the mayor has been in the position for nearly 20 years.

“If he was serious in addressing the problem on flooding, if naa kay vision for the flooding problem of Cebu, this could have been solved,” Garcia said.

This year, for instance, Garcia said Osmeña’s government does not have a specific program devoted to address flooding.

Osmeña separately countered this by saying his “Basura Mo, Sardinas Ko” program aims to rejuvenate the city’s waterways. He said his priority is to clean up the rivers and creeks.

He also hit back at the members of the opposition team, who allegedly blocked the purchase of compactor trucks that will be supposedly used to expand the trash-for-sardines program.

“We will tell them (public) to get it (garbage) out and we will give sardines. In the meantime, don’t throw anything there. Otherwise, we will be spending more money in widening the drainage but still keep throwing garbage in the drainage, it’s not going to work,” the mayor said.

Councilor Joel Garganera said the City Council has not been remiss in approving budget for the relocation of families living in danger zones and along the three-meter easement zones of the waterways.

He acknowledged that the problem has grown pervasive that the streets turn to rivers when it rains.

“Don’t you know that we have the oldest river in the Philippines? Colon Street nga nahimong river na karon kay everytime it rains, baha gyod na and anything can happen,” Garganera said.

“But the city government is not serious in its efforts in the problem of floods. There’s no program to address floods. To think, we are awash with cash,” he added.

Garganera said the executive department proposed P10 million for the relocation of the settlers this year but the council increased it to P100 million.

He also said the Department of Public Works and Highways-7 has allocated P750 million for the restoration of the city’s major creeks.  However, the agency was asking the city to shoulder the relocation of illegal settlers living in the three-meter easement zones, which number around 10,000 as of 2015.

For Garganera, the executive department should relocate illegal settlers to restore the waterways because he has noticed that the city’s creeks are getting “shallower and narrower.”

“If there’s no restoration of waterways, dili gyod masulbad ang problema sa baha,” he said, adding that the city government should also use the P1.5 billion allocated for the city’s drainage system.

City Engineer Josefa Ylanan already said that her office is still finalizing the designs for the drainage projects that will be implemented using the P1.5 billion.

As for Osmeña, city residents should be responsible enough in disposing of their garbage.

He said the city will study the impact of the sardines program after a year of implementation.

For now, he said, the city government could deploy Kaohsiung buses every time there are requests, especially during rainy days, to ferry the stranded individuals. (FREEMAN)

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