Cimatu: Controlling floods harder in Cebu than in Boracay

·2 min read

OWNERS of structures that are illegally built within the three-meter easement of Cebu City’s major waterways have been told to “self-demolish” by former environment secretary and now city consultant Roy Cimatu, who has found the fight against flooding more difficult than he imagined.

During a press conference in Cebu City Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, Cimatu admitted that the city’s “war against flood” is difficult compared to his previous rehabilitation campaigns in Boracay Island, Marikina River and Pasig River.

Cimatu, who became secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the time of President Rodrigo Duterte, was tapped by Mayor Michael Rama to lead the city government’s battle against flooding.

“Very difficult dito... because the area of Boracay is only a portion of the City of Cebu... ito how many kilometers, so mahihirapan (it will be difficult). I cannot really give a timetable,” said Cimatu.

The city government’s bid to revive and restore its major waterways will begin on Sept. 17 with a city-wide clean-up day that will be participated in by around 5,000 volunteers from the public and private sectors.

Cimatu said a massive dredging operation will also be conducted that day to improve the flow of water and reduce the chances of heavy flooding.

Self-demolish

City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chairman Gerardo Carillo has said there are around 18,000 establishments that have encroached on the three-meter easements of the city’s major waterways.

Cimatu said they will use a cadastral survey of Cebu City that was made in 1912 to determine the original starting point of the easement.

He said this will reveal the structures that have violated the easement rule, and this will be submitted to the DENR for proper action.

However, Cimatu urged the owners who already know that they have committed violations to voluntarily demolish their structures without waiting for the notice of violation from the DENR.

“The owner of that (structure) will be given time to go to the DENR for a conference... To discuss the violations. Of course, there will be some differences... Now, if they really admit that they went inside, they can self-demolish,” said Cimatu.

For families that have illegally built houses within the easement zone, Cimatu said the city government will look for a temporary relocation center before destroying their houses.

DENR Central Visayas Director Red Melicor said if the owners of the private structures will not voluntarily demolish their structures, their office will issue the notices of violation as a basis for Rama to issue a demolition order.