DPWH wants resolution of complaints; hearing on Oct. 28
In a memorandum signed by DPWH undersecretary for regional operations Romeo Momo, the regional DPWH-7 office was told to suspend the two flyover projects until the concerns of opposition groups were resolved.
Anti-flyover opponents like the Movement for Liveable Cebu (MLC) and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama welcomed the DPWH decision, a sentiment shared by flyover proponents.
Former congressman Raul del Mar and Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district said the suspension will give them a chance to clear issues on the projects.
The DPWH letter dated Oct. 7 cited the opposition of stakeholders on the flyover project to be built near the Asilo dela Milagrosa Church at the intersection of Gorordo Avenue and Archbishop Street.
Another flyover project is planned near the Carreta cemetery on M.J. Cuenco Avenue and General Maxilom intersection.
“In view thereof, you are advised to hold in abeyance the implementation of these projects until such time that this issue will be resolved,” Momo told DPWH-7 director Pedro Herrera Jr.
The stakeholders asked the government to conduct a Metro Cebu traffic master plan to identify both short- term and long-term solutions to the traffic problems in the city.
Last July, Rama wrote a letter addressed to the DPWH detailing his objections to the flyover projects.
He said other solutions like road widening and flared intersections should be pursued instead.
Rama also lobbied to update a 1970s Metro Cebu transport study.
The two new flyovers were proposed by the elder Del Mar and were now being lobbied by his successor and daughter Rep. Cutie del Mar of Cebu City’s north district.
Copies of the letter were sent to Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), Rama and Rep. Osmeña.
A copy of a resolution by Citom dated Sept. 8 reiterated its opposition to the flyover projects.
The Citom resolution said DPWH-7 officials admitted in a forum last Aug. 26 that they didn’t consider the traffic impact on the adjacent intersections.
“Citom’s concern was very specific in mentioning the proximity of each end of flyovers to the next busy intersection… We did not even mention master plan, environment (impact),” said Citom chairman Sylvan Jakosalem.
Joel Lee, spokesman of the Movement for Liveable Cities, said they were relieved that their concerns were being considered by the government.
In a statement posted on the group’s Facebook page, Lee said they are willing to work with government to help find short-term solutions to Cebu City’s traffic congestion.
Lee also called for a “participatory visioning exercise” that will draft the traffic and transport master plan among all sectors of the community.
He said they envision a mass transit system of roads, ample pedestrian and bike lanes, wide green space and interconnected small parks in Cebu City.
Rama said the DPWH suspension of the flyover projects was proof that President Benigno Aquino III has “listening ears.”
Rama said he wants to meet with the Infrastructure Development Council (IDC) of the Regional Development Council to check on their study on the viability of two more flyover projects for Cebu City.
The elder Del Mar said he heard about the DPWH order from businessman Bunny Pages, who opposed the flyover projects.
Raul said his daughter Cutie, who was in Manila on official business yesterday, also requested the DPWH to delay the flyover construction until after the Asilo dela Milagrosa fiesta celebration on Nov. 18 to 27.
He said DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson intends to visit Cebu to hold a public hearing on the projects on Oct. 28.
“I think DPWH wanted to get all the inputs, then they will have to decide because there can't be continuous dialogue,” Raul told Cebu Daily News.
Del Mar said he is confident that the DPWH would see the logic of having flyover projects in Cebu City.
Osmeña said the suspension will give more time for discussion and correct “misinformation” on the projects.
“Manila wants to be sure so it’s okay. We are not hiding anything and Manila wanted to be transparent so it’s okay,” he said.
While he supports calls for a master plan, Osmeña said it is always subject to change especially when funding is scarce.
Osmeña said Rama opposed the flyovers because he wanted to secure the funding for his own projects.
He said flyover opponents like Pages and Lee are Rama’s alter egos who have their own interest to protect.
“Let them come out and speak their mind and we will answer that,” said Osmeña.
Osmeña said he also experienced opposition on the South Road Properties (SRP) from his cousin and former senator John Osmeña.
The congressman also expressed dismay on the Asilo dela Milagrosa nuns.
Osmeña said when he made the proposal to sell the 11,000-sq.-meter Asilo lot donated to them by the Aboitiz family that was valued at P200 million, he wanted to know how well the nuns care for the 200 orphans under their care.
Instead, Osmeña said he was disappointed to hear the nuns express concern on how the flyover project would affect their fence and rock garden.
“Maybe I should not have said it but I wanted the people to understand. I thought the nuns cared about the orphans but I was wrong,” he said.
The congressman said while the property is tax exempt, the eight nuns running the facility barely helped the orphans.
He said the Asilo lot may be put to better use if taxes are collected from it and the city spends collected taxes on community scouts for the 200 children.
Osmeña said he wanted to raise the matter during the Oct. 28 public hearing. /By Marian Z. Codilla Candeze R. Mongaya and Doris C. Bongcac