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Cebu News

Cebu City picks 8 ‘river commanders’

Mary Ruth R. Malinao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  As the Gubat sa Baha continues, at least eight Cebu City officials have been designated as river commanders for each of the city’s major rivers.

These commanders are given the authority to hold meetings with barangay officials and their assigned departments, as well as to supervise and monitor operations related to the city’s river rehabilitation activities.

The commanders are lawyer Gerardo Carillo for the Bulacao River; Grace Luardo, Kinalumsan River; Dr. Ester Concha, Tagunol Creek; Engr. Rolando Ardosa, Guadalupe River; Paul Gotiong, Mahiga River; Engr. Joelito Baclayon, Lahug River; Raquel Arce, Estero Pari-an; and Arlie Gesta, Butuanon River.

As reported by the city’s Public Information Office (PIO), the designation was covered by Resolution No. 006-2022 approved by the Gubat sa Baha Special Task Force presided by former Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

“The River Commanders shall submit an Implementation Plan in accordance with the activities set by the Task Force during the next meeting of the Special Task Force on Tuesday, October 4, 2022,” read the resolution.

The commanders are also expected to conduct the map generation, tagging and profiling, stakeholders meeting, “pulong-pulong” with barangays affected, evacuation/relocation, implementation of 3-meter easements, and restoration and beautification of easements.

Aside from the city government departments and barangays, personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and City Legal Office (CLO) will be assigned to each river commander to assist them in their activities.

Last September 17, the Gubat sa Baha Program was officially launched during the Cebu City-wide Coastal Clean Up.

Cimatu, the Gubat sa Baha Task Force Commander, ordered for the conduct of dredging operations in the city rivers and called on owners of structures obstructing the rivers and waterways to “self-demolish” and avoid complicating matters.

Last August, the city government started tagging and issuing notices to structures within the three-meter easement in the city’s major rivers.

As earlier reported, informal settlers in these areas will be relocated and provided with financial assistance.

The Gubat sa Baha Task Force, in coordination with the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), will be constructing a 300-container van temporary housing resettlement at a 5-hectare lot in the South Road Properties (SRP)./ Mary Ruth R. Malinao

Quarrying

Meanwhile, an investigation is being sought on the quarrying, hauling and other activities of sand and gravel in Barangay Pulangbato and other areas in Cebu City.

This came after the collapse of a riprap in Pulangbato caused massive flooding in some areas in the city and even in Mandaue City, as noted by city councilor Joel Garganera in a privilege speech during the city council’s latest session.

Vice Mayor Raymond Garcia said it is premature to pinpoint who is at fault for this, that is why an investigation has to be conducted first.

Garganera, who is the chairman of the committee on the environment, is calling on the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the City’s Environment and  Natural Resources Office to investigate the incident in Pulangbato and Pit-os.

It was also suggested that CCENRO, together with the City’s Mining Board, review the city ordinances on mining and quarry operations for possible amendments that can be introduced and even a possible increase of penalties for illegal quarries as suggested by councilor Jaype Labella.

Along with this, Guardo also suggested that the Task Force for the Gubat sa Baha be involved.

Councilor Jun Alcover noted that the cutting of more trees around the area has also contributed to the massive flooding.

He suggested for the city government to double efforts in its tree-planting activities and ensure sustainability.

Earlier, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama promised to look into the alleged illegal quarrying activities in the city that affected not only Pulangbato and Pit-os but other areas in the city, both uplands and lowlands. – Caecent N. Magsumbol, JMD (FREEMAN)

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