CEBU City Task Force “Gubat sa Baha” (War against flooding) will issue notices to several commercial and business establishments on Monday to voluntarily demolish their structures situated above the city’s major rivers within 10 days, after serving a similar notice to two uptown establishments on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.
Task force chairman and former environment secretary Roy Cimatu conducted an ocular inspection on Friday afternoon of the two uptown business establishments, White Knight Hotel and Lighthouse Restaurant, that had constructed a portion of their structures above the Lahug River along General Maxilom Avenue.
During the inspection, Cimatu discussed with the owners of the two establishments how the city government will help them in the demolition of their properties without disrupting their livelihoods.
One of the owners of the establishments who declined to reveal her name, told SunStar Cebu that the management is supportive of the program of the City Government to mitigate flooding.
She added that they will comply with the voluntary demolition; however, the 10-day grace period will be a challenge for the management as they would have to look for contractors to lead the demolition and clearing of the debris.
Another concern was the integrity of the remaining structures that would not be part of the demolition but along the riverbank.
Meanwhile, Cimatu told reporters that the owners of both establishments were cooperative and had promised to comply with the 10-day notice.
In return, the task force chairman said the City Government through the City Engineering Unit, will assist in the processing of the “permit to demolish” for the said structures.
“Cooperative sila, and there is an understanding already that lahat naman (all their) preparation nila ay kino-comply naman, including the timetable and timeframe,” Cimatu told SunStar Cebu.
As to the request for an extension, Cimatu said the mayor’s directive has been clear and its need to be implemented.
“It is the order of the mayor and the task force cannot do that,” he added.
During the ocular inspection, the members of the task force marked a portion of the parking lot of White Knight Hotel and the dining area of Lighthouse Restaurant that covered the top of the Lahug River.
In the latest meeting of the task force, it was revealed that the management of both establishments had not secured any permit to build infrastructure over the river.
Under the Water Code of the Philippines, no infrastructure will be allowed within the three-meter easement zone along the river for urban areas. This also includes the construction of any structure above the waterways.
To send notice
Aside from the Lahug River, the task force will issue notices of voluntary demolition next week for another commercial establishment, situated on top of Estero de Parian in the downtown area and another business establishment on top of the Mahiga River in Barangay Mabolo.
In the task force meeting on Friday, Arnel Quijano, a representative of Raquel Arce, river commander of Estero de Parian, told the committee that the task force will send these notices to well-known establishments such as department stores and supermarkets in the downtown area.
The representative named the establishments on top of Estero de Parian as including Gaisano Main, Colonnade Supermarket, 138 Mall, Ding How Dimsum House and other huge establishments along the said river.
With these developments, Cimatu told the river commanders and other members of the task force to focus first on the clearing operation and removal of the commercial and business establishments identified to have been constructed on top of or above the city’s major waterways.
After this, the task force will next move to the clearing of commercial and residential establishments inside the three-meter easement zone.
On the issue of informal settlers residing within the three-meter easement zone, relocation sites must be prioritized before the clearing operations.