40 structures along Cebu City’s Kinalumsan River torn down

·4 min read

DOZENS of makeshift structures encroaching on the three-meter easement along the Kinalumsan River in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City were demolished by the Cebu City Government on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022.

Raquel Bohol-Arce, head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO), said at least 40 structures were torn down.

However, 25 of these structures were already abandoned by their owners after they were paid by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to leave to give way to the expansion of a waterways project, while the remaining 15 houses were rented out to boarders, Arce said.

Mayor Michael Rama had ordered the immediate removal of settlers within the three-meter easement of waterways in the city to prevent casualties during heavy rains.

Rama gave the order Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, after a downpour in Cebu City Thursday night caused flooding and the overflowing of rivers, including the Kinalumsan River, whose rampaging waters swept away two persons.

The two were later rescued.

Rama visited the Kinalumsan River Monday to check out the situation following his order to destroy the structures there.

Jerry Guardo, chairman of the committee on infrastructure and urban planning and development in the City Council, said Kinalumsan was one of the four major rivers in Cebu City where the DPWH had flood control projects.

Guardo said Rama’s order would reduce the number of illegal settlers since those affected by the demolition were offered financial assistance or a relocation site in line with Rama’s dream to turn Cebu City into another Singapore, meaning developed, clean, green, orderly and disciplined.

There are some 14,000 individuals occupying at least 2,000 structures along rivers and waterways of the city, the Cebu City Government said.

Rama’s order is to immediately remove the illegal structures and move the displaced settlers temporarily to schools while they await the setting up of container vans at the South Road Properties, which would serve as their temporary dwellings. They settlers will later be relocated again to medium-rise buildings that will be built.

Under Article 51 of Presidential Decree 1067, or The Water Code of the Philippines: “The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three meters in urban areas, 20 meters in agricultural areas and 40 meters in forest areas, along their margins, are subject to the easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage. No person shall be allowed to stay in this zone longer than what is necessary for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing or salvage or to build structures of any kind.”

New August record

The amount of rainfall that poured in Cebu last Wednesday exceeded the greatest daily rainfall recorded for the month of August 40 years ago.

Last Aug. 3, 2022, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas recorded 107 millimeters (mm) of rainfall, which is equivalent to 535,000 drums of water per square kilometer.

Pagasa Visayas weather bureau chief Al Quiblat told SunStar Cebu Monday, Aug. 8, that this has surpassed the 96.6 mm rainfall recorded on Aug. 17, 1982.

For the first seven days of August, Pagasa had already recorded 212.9 mm of rain in Cebu.

Pagasa weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino said the low pressure area (LPA) that caused the heavy rains in recent days had already left the Philippine area of responsibility.

The only prevailing weather system inside the country is the southwest monsoon, locally known as “habagat,” which is currently affecting areas in central and southern Luzon.

In Cebu, Quiblat said, Cebuanos can expect fair weather, but there is still a chance of rain showers in the afternoon caused by localized thunderstorms.

Mandaue preps Berts

The Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MCDRRMO) has mandated the Barangay Emergency Response Teams (Berts) in Mandaue City to be on heightened alert following the successive heavy rains in Metro Cebu.

Buddy Alain Ybañez, MCDRRMO head, told reporters on Monday, Aug. 8 that this is to ensure that Mandaue City barangays are 100 percent ready should any sudden calamities hit the city, such as the heavy thunderstorm on Thursday.

Ybañez said the heavy rains brought floods to several areas in Mandaue, particularly the city’s flood-prone areas, namely Barangays Centro, Looc, Opao, Umapad, Cambaro, Subangdaku and Paknaan.

About 160 families in Sitio Tambis and Laray in Barangay Umapad and 11 from Barangay Ibabao were evacuated, following the downpour.

Ybañez said the directive aims for Berts to strictly monitor any reported weather disturbances and help the MCDRRMO implement evacuations when needed.

“They (Berts) are the ones who call us when there is a need for evacuation and guide us where to go because it is their area. So, it is important that they initiate an evacuation if highly needed because there are times the MCDRRMO personnel might arrive delayed because there are instances that some roads become unpassable due to flood,” Ybañez said.

“They should be on call as much as possible,” he added.

Also, Ybañez urged people, particularly those in flood-prone areas, not to wait for responders and to evacuate to the nearest evacuation centers before the water rises during heavy rains to avoid accidents and fatalities. (PAC / TPT, IRT, HIC, CTL)