Ex-environment chief Cimatu to lead war vs. Cebu City floods

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has appointed former environment secretary Roy Cimatu to keep an eye on all environmental matters in the city.Rama, Cimatu and representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 7, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7, Department of Education 7 and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) attended the Task Force Gubat sa Baha (TFGB) gathering at the City Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, where they discussed the restoration of waterways, the implementation of the three-meter easement, the flooding problem and the search for potable water.According to Cerwin Eviota, Cebu City public information officer, Cimatu has been named chairman of TFGB (Task Force War on Flood), which the mayor formed through Executive Order 2 signed last Aug. 19.Cimatu’s work will include overseeing the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), the Department of Public Services and other related offices to ensure that the City will achieve the mayor’s vision of a Singapore-like Cebu City, Eviota said.The CDRRMC, with the help of the Cenro, has already issued 2,000 notices of demolition to owners of illegal structures within the three-meter easement zone.The clearing operation is in line with the mayor’s order to reclaim riverbanks to allow the DPWH 7 to fast-track its implementation of various flood control projects in the city.Gerardo Carillo, CDRRMC head, had identified 14,000 illegal structures that encroach on the three-meter easement of seven waterways.Carillo hopes to demolish all of them by 2025.However, the City cannot do so unless it provides a relocation site and financial assistance to affected owners.Cimatu, who became chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the second former national official to be appointed by Rama.Last July, the mayor had also appointed former Philippine National Police chief Debold Sinas as chairman of the Cebu City Police Advisory Council. (PJB)