Delay seen in Gorordo flyover; DPWH to seek moratoriumBy Candeze R. Mongaya
Cebu Daily News
Work on the Gorordo Avenue flyover may be delayed until February next year instead of November, an official said.
This is due to last-minute changes being made in the design to avoid damaging the Asilo dela Milagrosa compound, said lawyer Agustinito Hermoso of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“I will file a formal request for a moratorium addressed to the DPWH central office,” he said at the end of a forum held at a conference hall of the Asilo dela Milagrosa.
The DPWH legal officer said he would recommend to the head office a “review” of the flyover project.
“We will not touch a single centimeter of Asilo property,” he earlier assured.
DPWH-7 officials took the heat in the forum, where citizen stakeholders questioned the technical basis and impact of building two flyovers worth P600 million in the “urban core” of Cebu City.
Hermoso came with engineer Leah Negre from the DPWH planning division and engineer Nicomedes Leonor Jr. of the Cebu City District Engineering.
About 100 persons attended the forum organized by the Movement for a Liveable Cebu, a lobby group opposing the rise of more flyovers.
“With regard to flyovers, we can say with certainty that it will continue,” Hermoso said, unless President Benigno Aquino III or the Supreme Court intervenes.
He said they are in “consultation mode” for possible changes in the flyover design on instructions of Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar, who noted media reports that the nuns were upset by a 3.7- meter setback that would destroy their fence, grotto-garden, a crisis center, and push the boundary line up close to the main door of the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.
Hermoso said the DPWH contractor may not be able to start the first phase as scheduled on November because of these changes to divert the foundation posts away from Asilo property.
Various church activities in December and the Sinulog in January are other factors that would push the start of work forward to February, he said.
He said stakeholders in Gorordo Avenue would be consulted once plans are finalized. The changes will entail more cost but he said Representative Del Mar assured she would find a way to cover the additional cost.
Hermoso got boos from the crowd when he said the two flyovers underwent public consultation at the barangay level before plans were finalized. He couldn’t recall dates of the meetings.
Louella Alix, a member of the anti-flyover movement, was teary-eyed as she lamented the “trifling” treatment of the DPWH in an expensive project.
“We expect transparency and consultation,” Alix said.
She challenged the DPWH to show their studies and the minutes of the meeting of the public consultations made.
DPWH representatives spoke for less than two minutes. They said they didn’t prepare a presentation because they thought they would be meeting a small group.
A panel for four speakers from the Movement for a Liveable Cebu were given three minutes each to talk.
Joel Lee, co-convenor, said the impact on the environment and heritage value should be considered before building any flyovers.
He mentioned his meeting the other day with Raul del Mar who told him that his daughter already wrote to Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas asking for help to fund a transportation master plan for Cebu that would cost P30 million.
The Del Mars were invited to the forum but didn’t attend.
Cutie del Mar, in a text message, said she already visited Asilo yesterday, met with the nuns and was “able to address all their concerns.”
Joseph Espina, dean of the College of Architecture and Fine Arts in the University of San Carlos (USC), said the flyovers being planned in Cebu City “go against all urban planning principles.”
He said flyovers should only be built in the periphery of the city “ but not within the urban core.” He said these massive structures can “divide” society, and pose danger by encouraging crime and unfriendly neighborhoods due to less interaction among people.
Architect Melva Java of the Cebu Heritage Institute and Research said many heritage sites are found in Gorordo Avenue, including the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal and Asilo dela Milagrosa.
“We treasure our heritage zones. We have to protect them,” Java said.
The National Committee on Monuments and Sites (NCMS) also issued an official statement opposing the proposed flyover in Gorordo Avenue “due to the damage it will entail to the cultural values of the old thoroughfare where a number of heritage structures are located.
They asked for a master plan that would guide guide infrastructure projects.
Hermoso said that suggestions of the anti-flyover movement to make Cebu a “sustainable” city were applicable only for first world countries and “are not applicable here.”
“The roads in Cebu are narrow. There’s nothing we can do about it. We have to adapt with what we have. To widen roads is our only alternative but it is very expensive,” he said.
“That’s the price we have to pay for progress.”