Group wants relocation site for 14,000 Cebu City residents

MORE than 50 members of Sanlakas-Cebu, a coalition representing marginalized groups, staged a rally on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, to appeal that relocation sites be provided for people living along waterways who will be affected by the Cebu City Government’s plan to clear their settlements.According to Sanlakas-Cebu, an estimated 14,000 dwellers will be dislocated by the City’s flood control measure without any clear plans for their relocation or a socialized housing program.Teody Navea, Sanlakas-Cebu secretary general, said they organized the protest action to appeal to the City and National Governments to work together to provide socialized housing to the poor and those affected by the demolitions.“It’s high time that we all help each other. The City Government and the National Government should take care of all those affected by the demolition. Around 14,000 dwellers to be demolished is no joke,” Naveo said in Cebuano during the rally held at the Fuente Osmeńa Circle.Naveo expressed dismay that their scheduled dialogue with Mayor Michael Rama at City Hall on Friday evening was moved to Friday next week, Sept. 30.“We wanted to hold the dialogue to clarify the City’s demolition plans. Two thousand people already received a notice of eviction and there are 12,000 remaining in danger of being affected,” Naveo said.‘Gubat sa Baha’Rama recently launched a “war against flood” to abate the effects of the recent floods that hit the city that caused disruptions in business and heavy traffic, among others.Rama wants to transform Cebu City into a Singapore-like city.To solve the flood dilemma, Rama appointed former Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to lead the City’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha (War against Flood) or TFGB.One of the solutions will be a major clearing operation involving establishments and structures built along the three-meter easement zone of the city’s waterways and rivers.Emma Alforque, 52, a resident of Sitio Riverside, Barangay Sambag 2, told SunStar Cebu that she fears that there will be no relocation option. Her house sits along the three-meter easement zone of Guadalupe River.Alforque, a widow, said she has been living in the area from the time she was eight-years-old until the present. She has five children whom she raises alone using her husband’s pension, while she also does sidelines to finance their studies.She said she is not against with the city’s upcoming demolition plan but wishes that the local government will provide a clear plan for their relocation or assistance.“I am not asking for anything else, just for relocation, Mayor Mike Rama, because as a parent, I worry about where my children and I would live and their education that might be stopped,” Alforque said in Cebuano.Among the Cebu-based progressive groups that participated in the rally were Partido Lakas ng Masa, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development, and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino.