Cebu News

River chiefs have until Friday to submit list of violators

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  River commanders are given until tomorrow to submit the list of informal settlers living along the three-meter easement of the rivers they are assigned to.

The deadline was given during a hybrid meeting with the Task Force Gubat sa Baha at the City Hall with former environment secretary Roy Cimatu.

Arlie Gesta, who is assigned to Butuanon River, said his team has already listed 155 informal settlers residing along the three-meter easement of the river. Joey Baclayon said several residents could be found living on the banks of Lahug River but his team has yet to come up with the actual numbers.

Baclayon noted that the Lahug River is 30 percent upland and 70 percent downstream or urban area with commercial, residential, and mixed-use development. The other ground commanders are already done with ocular inspection and have already started identifying and tagging establishments with violations.

Raquel Arce, commander assigned to Estero de Parian, has so far identified 31 establishments in both sides of the river that are within the three meter easement. The area covers Colon Street down to Pier 2 traversing Barangays Sto. Nino, Parian and San Roque.

Portia Basmayor, who represented Dr. Ester Concha, reported that they have identified around 200 structures within the easement zone of Tagunol Creek. River commander Paul Gotiong, on the other hand, said his team started doing an ocular inspection of the Mahiga River along Barangays Carreta and Mabolo, but is yet to determine the number of informal settlers around the area.

Grace Luardo, commander of Kinalumsan River, had not indicated the number of structures and informal settlers around the area, but said they are looking at clearing structures near the Badjao community settlement.

To do this, Luardo’s team asked for vehicles and equipment to be able to penetrate the interior areas.

The Bulacao River team has identified major obstructions along the waterways, including warehouse owned by an unnamed former barangay captain, and a school run by nuns.

Engr. Rolando Ardosa, for his part, said they have done a river clean up at the Guadalupe River and yielded around two tons of garbage.

The Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW), however, reported a much higher volume of silt and garbage collected from Guadalupe River during their cleanup.

According to Engineer Guillermo Viola around 485 metric tons of silt and garbage were collected by them.

“This includes the deepening and dredging of the river from Pier 3 to the Arellano Bridge. Napalalim natin ang river by around 30 to 40 centimeters,” said Viola in a report by the city’s Public Information Office (PIO).

The team noted that the river’s water now flows more easily to the sea following the dredging.

Dredging is the process of removing sediments and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water bodies.

Viola, however, stressed the importance of keeping the area clean since it is easy for the garbage to build up again just after another downpour.

Cimatu, who heads the Gubat sa Baha Task Force, said that they will continue the dredging in other rivers.

Cimatu said such method is proven effective against flooding.

This could be observed in the Lahug River, where the task force recently cleared some debris from the waterway by demolishing a portion of the concrete perimeter fence of the Cebu Port Authority at the mouth of the river.

Cimatu sees the need to formulate a dredging master plan so that the city can look for funds.

“I would like to request the city engineer’s office to prepare a plan for the rehabilitation and dredging of all rivers so we can plan on funding for this,” said Cimatu.

“Really, nag-pay off naman ang ginawa natin... We have demonstrated that dredging rivers is the easiest and fastest way to reduce flooding,” he said.  – Mary Ruth R. Malinao, FPL (FREEMAN)

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