The rainy season has begun, forcing the Cebu City government to face the same hard question at the end of summer.
Why are almost 6,000 families still living in danger zones near creeks and rivers that may overflow during a downpour?
“We already finished tagging structures within the three-meter easement” of waterways, said Alvin Santillana, head of the Cebu City Risk Reduction Management Office.
But they can’t evict people for lack of a relocation site.
Santillana said they learned their lesson when the city was sued in court for demolishing shanties of occupants of Mahiga Creek last year.
“Because of the pending case, we can’t move because we’re also apprehensive of the consequences,” he said.
“We don’t know where to put the people.”
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he wanted to clear these danger zones before flashfloods claim lives.
Dry months of summer would have been an ideal time to clear the banks of five major rivers or creeks in Cebu City that the mayor wanted to prioritize.
These are Mahiga in Mabolo, the Parian esteros, Tinago, Bulacao and Tagunol, all within low-lying urban parts of the city.
The five flood-prone sites were already mapped out said Harold Alcontin of the Management Information and Computer System (MICS). They also tagged families in Kinalumsan River that passes through Happy Valley in Banaway.
He said more than 5,000 structures encroach the three-meter easement of waterways.
“As soon as possible we have to do dredging work but due to limited resources, the operation is slow,” said Alcontin.
The record of City Hall’s Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) lists 6,000 families living along danger areas like roads, creeks, rivers and esteros as of last year.
Half of this number living along waterways, said Councilor Alvin Dizon, chairman of the housing committee.
“Three thousand houses are expected to be demolished so it’s a priority to set aside a budget for the relocation site,” he said.
Dizon said the mayor has not yet tapped a P78 million loan from the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF).
“This was available last year intended for a relocation program. It’s a loan so we have to pay for that. At least there’s money,” he said.
Tagging or identification of structures was conducted starting at the river delta up to least two kilometers inland.
Santillana said they tagged structures built along creeks and rivers in Mahiga in Mabolo, Tejero and T. Padilla, Lahug, Kinalumsan, Basak Pardo and Inayawan and Bulacao.
The data is now with MICS.
With this, Santillana said it’s up to the urban poor office in DWUP to identify a relocation site for families that need to be evicted. One option is to find government lots to use as temporary shelters, he said.
A P20 million appropriation has been set aside for relocation.
Cebu City has set aside P157.5 million for disaster risk reduction and management (DRMM) this year.
Santillana presented his office’s 2012 programs to the City Council in an executive session on Wednesday.
Under the law, 70 percent of the fund should be used to prepare for disasters and reduce the risk of a crisis. The balance of 30 percent is reserved for quick response to a disaster.
Under Republic Act 10121 or an Act strengthening the country’s risk reduction management system, a local government must set aside at least 5 percent of its income for the DRRM Fund., which replaces the calamity fund.
For Cebu City, 70 percent of the fund or P110.2 million will be spent for pre-disaster preparations.
P34.6 million – setting up a command center
P34.5 million – equipment and operational needs
P27.2 million – temporary shelter sites
P7.8 million – emergency rescue response equipment and tools
P3.9 million – training and seminars
P1.7 million – purchase of a coastal patrol
The 30 percent share or P47.2 million will be set aside as quick response fund.
It will be spent for:
P10.5 million – humanitarian assistance and relief operations
P30 million – emergency response, repair, restoration and rehabilitation efforts
P6.7 million – unforeseen expenses
/Edison A. Delos Angeles and Tweeny M. Malinao