Cebu City to give river settlers ‘safer’ homes
CEBU CITY—The local government here has decided to no longer give financial assistance to informal settlers who were asked to move out from the three-meter easement zones of the rivers that dot this premier city in the Visayas.
Instead, City Hall would look for relocation sites where the settlers could transfer, according to Gerry Carillo, cochair of the Task Force Gubat sa Baha (war on flood) on Sunday.
“The city is now looking for a place where we can provide these settlers a decent house, otherwise they will just go back to their homes near the rivers,” he said.
At the start of the program against flooding, the city government gave financial assistance of P5,000 to P10,000 to each of the affected households.
At least 14,000 illegal structures were found to have encroached on the three-meter easement of waterways in the city but not all have received cash aids yet.
“We are looking for a bigger place to accommodate affected families [instead of just giving them money],” Carillo said.
Under Presidential Decree No. 1067, or the Water Code of the Philippines, no infrastructure should be allowed within the three-meter easement zone along the river. This includes the construction of any structure above the waterways.
In August 2022, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama created the Task Force Gubat sa Baha to address the city’s massive flooding during downpours. He appointed former Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to head the task force along with Carillo.
Rama, in an earlier interview, said displaced households would be placed in school buildings before they would be brought to the South Road Properties (SRP) where a government-owned medium-rise building (MRB) would rise. At least P115 million was allocated by the government for the construction of the MRB.
While waiting for the project’s completion, families displaced by the clearing operations will be housed inside container vans which will be purchased by the city government and placed at the SRP.
Rama said no one would be spared from the demolition of structures violating the three-meter easement rule, adding City Hall would not succeed in its efforts to solve the flood problem in the city if big structures built along or on the rivers and waterways were not removed. —NESTLE SEMILLA INQ
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