By Marc Cosep
CEBU CITY (December 6, 2022) — Disapproved funding and the struggle to relocate illegal settlers are the main reason why the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-7 temporarily halted its river-widening projects in the city.
June Dela Cruz, head of the DPWH-7 project maintenance division, explained this as he took note of the City Government’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha concerns regarding their current river-widening projects in Tejero Creek and in the Tagunol River.
He made the clarification in today’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha meeting at the Mayor’s Conference Room, following the body’s request for DPWH-7’s presence so it can verify observations that the two projects seem to have been abandoned and left unfinished, causing cascading waters during heavy rains to overflow and cause flooding.
Dela Cruz said that their office had to stop implementing the two projects after their request for a “right of way” (ROW) funding was disapproved.
He said the funding was intended as payment to private lot owners affected by the river-widening project.
“Wala man na-approve among budget maong we have to temporarily pause the operation,” Dela Cruz said.
Wala man na-approve among budget maong we have to temporarily pause the operation.June Dela Cruz of DPWH-7
In particular, on the Tagunol River, Dela Cruz said an ongoing court case prompted DPWH to momentarily stop the project
“We have already placed barriers at the side of the river to mitigate the flooding, but because of the court case we had to pause our operation as well,” he said.
According to him, both river projects were part of the department’s 2017 approved comprehensive drainage masterplan which they have just recently commenced operation.
With the concerns, DPWH paused operations to address them before it could start construction work again.
“We have also struggled in the relocation sa mga illegal settlers in the area sab kay dili mi maka-proceed without providing a relocation,” Dela Cruz said.
“Now that we have understood this, let us help nalang each other so that we can move forward na,” said former environmental secretary Roy Cimatu, Task Force chairman, who presided over the meeting.
Furthermore, Atty. Gerry Carillo, head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC), suggested pursuing the construction of a “Container City” as temporary relocation for the informal settlers.
“There is an existing P30 million from DWUP (City’s Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor) which was intended for an MRB, maybe we can use that para while you are waiting for the approval for your ROW budget,” he said.
Cimatu agreed with the proposal.
“Thank you for enlightening us on this matter and through our river commands, they will closely coordinate with you for the implementation,” he said. #