Mandaue to drive 650 settlers out of Butuanon riverbanks

OVER 650 informal settlers living inside the three-meter easement zone along the Butuanon River in Mandaue City will soon be displaced as the city government addresses the massive flooding that occurred last Friday, Sept. 9.“Ang katong mga informal settlers nga diin ato sad tong tubagon nga dili na gyud makabalik ngadto sa maong gipuy-an (We will not allow those informal settlers to return to that area),” said Mayor Jonas Cortes Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, following his round-table discussion with national government agencies, including the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Office of Civil Defense at the city sports complex.The government agencies were tapped to help the city find solutions after the recent overflowing of the Butuanon River that resulted in massive floods in several areas.Based on their discussion, Cortes noted that it is not only the infrastructure component that contributed to the flooding incident but also the solid waste and informal settlers living within the three-meter easement zone along the Butuanon River.Lawyer Johnbee Biton, head of the Mandaue City Housing and Urban Development Office (Hudo), said most of the informal settlers living within the easement zone are from Barangay Paknaan, 296 households; Casutingan, 114; Tingub, 110; Tabok, 97; and Maguikay, 37.While there is no time frame yet on when they will remove the houses, Cortes said the city government already prepared financial aid of P20,000 for each household that will be displaced.He said the affected households will also be included in the priority list to occupy the medium-rise housing that the city government is about to construct.Cortes said the three-meter easement zone is not enough, which is why they still have to discuss the matter with the DPWH and Hudo.This, as he revealed that their initial plan with the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) is to build mega dikes, wherein the slope protection along the Butuanon River will be a bit higher to control the flood once the water rises.Easement of 25 metersCPDO head Marlo Ocleasa, an architect, said the easement zone should not be just three meters but 25 meters from the center of the river.Ocleasa said one of their interventions based on the 10-year Comprehensive Drainage Master Plan is to come up with a diversion channel. However, the DPWH budget amounting to P100 million in 2017 was reverted to the national government due to the delay in the clearance which was released by the DENR only in 2018.Ocleasa noted the need to have a diversion channel as they want to protect the mangroves.Cortes said the flooding incident was a wake-up call for all government agencies, may it be national or local as well as private and public institutions, to get their act together to solve the problem amid the challenge on climate change that he noted as one of the factors that contributed to the massive flooding.The mayor said they can work together to address other components of the flooding, particularly the regular waste segregation and collection.The mayor said the DENR assured during the discussion that it will streamline the process to help prevent the budget allocation from agencies from being reverted.Cortes said the DPWH also assured them that it will do everything to finish its pending or ongoing projects in the city.Ocleasa noted that there was massive rainfall on that day as 82 millimeters of rain fell in just an hour and a half, which he described as an unusual flooding in the city.He said they had already implemented P1.5 billion of the estimated P5 billion to P6 billion budget of the city’s Comprehensive Drainage Master Plan with the help of the DPWH, among others.Of the P1.5 billion implemented projects, P212 million was implemented in the Butuanon River.Ocleasa said the problem is complex, citing the water quality, pollution, informal settlers and flooding. But he said they have to address these issues one by one in order to solve the flooding through structural and non-structural mitigation.“We’ve discussed what the gap is in the implementation. It’s basically the budget and then coordination with agencies,” said Ocleasa, who added that there shoud be a board or committee that will monitor how they will implement the master plan, as suggested by Sixth District Board Member Glenn Anthony Soco.“A little help is what Mandaue City needs. We are not saying that we are the solution. We always say that the solution to this problem can be found in all of us, each and every one of us,” said Cortes.Apart from other city officials and representatives of government agencies, Mandaue City Lone District Rep. Emmarie Ouano-Dizon, Soco and Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera were also at the round-table discussion.Ocleasa said they will send a copy of the summary or minutes of the discussion to Malacañang.He said there will be another round-table discussion on the matter.