Cebu’s barangay leaders: Clearing roads difficult

Rona Joyce T. Fernandez - Jerra Mae Librea

DISPUTE over boundaries, concerns on property ownership and lack of manpower and equipment are among the top challenges that Cebu’s village chiefs might encounter in clearing roads in their barangays of obstructions.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)has ordered barangays to destroy structures that obstruct their roads in 75 days.

Provincial Board (PB) Member Celestino Martinez III said village chiefs would still need the help of their respective local chief executives.

Guidelines

Martinez is an ex-officio member at the PB being the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay Cebu Chapter. He is the barangay captain of Cayang, Bogo City.

He said there must be a set of guidelines for the barangay captains to follow.

In a text message sent to Capitol reporters on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, Martinez said village chiefs might encounter problems in clearing roads that are still privately owned—those roads that are not yet formally donated to the barangay. This scenario, he said, needs a “conciliation” proceeding in court.

Other issues that village chiefs might encounter along the way include the “disputed barangay territorial boundaries,” said Martinez.

In an earlier report, Ian Kenneth Lucero of the DILG 7 said 3,003 barangays in Central Visayas—1,066 of which are in Cebu—will be required to clear their roads within the 75-day period.

Lucero heads the Local Government Monitoring and Evaluation Division, and at the same time he serves as the DILG-Cebu City officer-in-charge.

The DILG central office is set to issue guidelines for the implementation of road clearing operations for barangays.

Based on the DILG memorandum circular issued last July 2019, all local officials are enjoined “to exercise their powers to reclaim public roads which are being used for private ends and in the process, rid them of all illegal structures and constructions.”

Easing traffic woes

Martinez said he has no problem with the directive, saying clearing roads in barangays “is a must” as it could ease traffic congestion, especially in major thoroughfares.

However, he said barangay leaders are dependent on their local executives as “they would need assistance” from the police and other offices in clearing roads, especially in highly urbanized areas.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach League of Municipalities of the Philippines Cebu chapter president and Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco for comment, but she was not available as of press time.

Legal action

With the road clearing operation to be implemented at the barangay level, the DILG 7 warned that the agency would sue village chiefs who fail to comply with the directive.

Lucero, though, clarified that barangays have the option to seek help from the city or municipal government in clearing their roads.

In Cebu City, Inayawan Barangay Captain Kirk Bryan Repollo said lack of manpower and equipment is the main reason why it could be difficult to clear roads.

Councilor Franklyn Ong, for his part, said helping sidewalk vendors understand the DILG directive is one way to get rid of road obstructions. He sits in the City Council as an ex-officio member being the current Association of Barangay Councils president.

Ong, a businessman, is Kasambagan’s barangay captain. He said vendors should also be given enough time to leave the roads where they are selling their merchandise.

He said he wants to meet with vendors in his barangay to discuss his plan to give them 30 days to vacate Kasambagan roads.

Ong said he would tap the City’s Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement team for assistance if vendors would not leave.

Labella’s assurance

In a separate interview, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella assured the 80 barangay captains that the City Government will assist them in the implementation of the road clearing order.

Labella also said that the right time has come for the village chiefs to take the responsibility in getting rid of structures that blocked the roads as they know their barangays well. / WITH WBS