DPWH vows swift action on Cebu flooding
CEBU CITY—Newly appointed Public Works Secretary Mark Villar has vowed to address “swiftly and relentlessly” the mounting complaints of flooding and traffic in Metro Cebu, saying his department would work round-the-clock to solve these problems.
But Villar, former Las Piñas representative and son of real estate magnate former Sen. Manny Villar, neither provided solutions to the problems nor gave a timetable for action during a consultative meeting with civic society groups on Wednesday.
Instead, he listened to the presentation of officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Central Visayas and to suggestions of members of Mega Cebu, a consortium of government, private, and civil society stakeholders that envisions sustained urban growth in Metro Cebu up to 2050.
He pointed out that he was alarmed that the 55-millimeter rain on July 1 caused floods in Mandaue and Cebu cities and traffic gridlock in major thoroughfares.
Ador Canlas, public works regional director, laid down the agency’s plans of action in solving the flood problem. These include the creation of a comprehensive drainage master plan, completing drainage projects and continued upgrading of existing drainage systems.
Canlas said the national office had set aside P731 million this year for the improvement of rivers in Barangays Subangdaku and Tipolo in Mandaue, and in Barangay Tejero in Cebu City, to allow floodwaters to flush out into the sea.
The projects will be undertaken by the Unified Project Management Office Flood Control Management Cluster, he said.
Villar did not say if he was going to approve Canlas’ recommendation.
The regional official explained that the floods occurred because of the encroachment of informal settlers on waterways, violations of easement regulations, improper disposal of garbage, cement residuals from industries along national roads, and insufficient outfall allocated inside private establishment compounds.
Fortunato Sanchez Jr., chair of the infrastructure and utilities subcommittee under Mega Cebu’s project management office, proposed that the rivers should be widened by 20 to 30 meters.
He said the government should provide relocation to the informal settlers and that more dams should be built to prevent rainwater from cascading to the low-lying areas.
Sanchez stressed that the flooding problem should be solved immediately, saying Cebu could experience inundation every five days by 2023.
Gordon Alan Joseph, president of Cebu Business Club and chair of the Mega Cebu executive committee, said the DPWH should also consider the human aspect of their projects. He urged the agency to expand its budget to cater to informal settlers that will be affected by right-of-way acquisitions and other developments.
Villar went to Cebu on the invitation of Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino. He said his presence showed that the Duterte administration intended to meet the issues head on.
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