AFTER a massive flood hit Cebu City and took three lives on Tuesday night, Oct. 13, 2020, the season of fault-finding and solution-seeking has begun—the city officials initially identified establishments in the uptown area that caused obstruction in the waterway.
These establishments—identified by the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) personnel on their initial walk-through on Thursday, Oct. 15—are near a creek and a bridge on Gen. Maxilom Ave., which saw a deluge that carried garbage and mud.
CDRRMO officer-in-charge Ramil Ayuman said the structures that they saw as obstruction were a hotel’s parking lot, a restaurant and various businesses near Rahman Bridge.
However, Ayuman’s team still has to determine if these establishments violated the three-meter easement.
Mayor Edgardo Labella said he will meet with the owners of the establishments and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials, to discuss the measures that they must do to prevent a similar magnitude of flooding from happening again.
The Tuesday heavy downpour caused flooding in Cebu City’s downtown area, including the historical Colon St., whose doctored images circulated on Facebook— big ships printed with Cebu City jeepney routes sail in the nighttime flood.
An anomaly also happened that same night in the uptown area—a portion of Gen. Maxilom Ave. near the creek and Rahman Bridge was also heavily flooded. Residents near the area said it had never happened before.
After the flood, Labella directed the CDRRMO, together with the Office of the Building Official (OBO), to conduct a walk-through in areas where there are establishments standing near waterways.
The mayor said he wants to find ways to correct the problem on clogged or blocked waterways.
Labella said the DPWH representatives must be present in the meeting, saying the companies get their construction clearance from the agency before they are allowed to construct buildings.
He also said the maintenance of creeks is also under the DPWH.
As to the CDRRMO, Ayuman said they will submit a report to the mayor on their assessment on buildings and structures that blocked the waterways.
Councilor Jerry Guardo, chairman of the infrastructure committee, said it has been common knowledge that waterways should be freed from any obstruction.
He will clarify with the DPWH if the agency has issued permits and clearance to the buildings that will be identified by the CDRRMO and OBO.
Meanwhile, Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa said he already asked for an additional P1.5 billion budget from the DPWH’s proposed 2021 national budget intended for flood control and mitigation projects for the south district.
North District Rep. Raul del Mar, on the other hand, said there is a need to update the drainage master plan, as well as the anti-flooding system plan, of Cebu City.
By doing this, he said the real amount for the projects can be determined.
Del Mar said the regular funding allocations for the north district are “minuscule to handle the big-ticket infrastructure project required.”
Abellanosa has been pushing Congress to rectify the proposed national budget and provide a bigger budget for the two districts in Cebu City to address the flooding problem in the city.
From the proposed 2021 national budget, Cebu City North District has an allocated P992,436,000 budget, while the South District has P912,787,000.
“This, despite our submission of sufficient proposals in order to address what we have just seen, the serious flooding problems, perennially humbling, in the City of Cebu,” said Abellanosa before Congress.
The volume of garbage in the rivers also contributed to the massive Tuesday night flood.
During the two-day clearing operations conducted by the Department of Public Services from Oct. 14 to 15, its personnel collected a total of 235 tons of garbage.
The flood took the lives of Labiano Detuya, 85; Leonardo Otto, 49; and Hansel Dayondon, 14 (not 16 as earlier reported).
Dayondon’s body was found near Rahman Bridge at 2:20 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15.
Dayondon was a resident of Barangay Bolinawan, Carcar City. He had been living with his aunt in Cebu City for a month before his death.
His mother May Ann Danieles said her son went away after a fight with a younger sibling.
Otto, a resident of Barangay Busay, was reportedly drunk when he was swept away by flood while trying to cross a spillway at the boundary of Busay and Lahug. The incident was captured on video by his neighbor.
Detuya possibly slipped while trying to go down to the ground floor of his two-story house in Sitio Creekside, Barangay Lorega San Miguel.
Labella said the City Government will handle the burial of the fatalities. (JJL with BBT / KAL)