Port property demolished in Cebu City’s fight vs. flood

THE petition for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan before the Supreme Court (SC) will accelerate the campaign of the Cebu City Government against flooding, said former environment secretary Roy Cimatu.Cimatu, who is now leading the City Government’s task force “Gubat sa Baha,” said the same measure was also used during the national government’s campaign to rehabilitate and improve the status of Manila Bay.On Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, the City Government demolished a concrete wall of a property owned by the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) that has impeded the outflow of the Lahug-Kamputhaw-Tejero River.According to Cimatu, it is necessary to remove the structure to give way for heavy equipment that will be used in dredging operations.“It is really necessary to open this to remove the dirt. That is really the intention because the moment that this will be successful, the flow of water will be continuous,” Cimatu said in Filipino.Raquel Arce, chairman of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the waterway impeded by the structure is already silted and full of garbage.“Mura siya og pila na ka tuig ang basura naka pile; gamay na lang kaayo ang width sa river. Silted na sad kaayo. Mao na atong kuhaon karon,” said Arce. (It looks as if several years of trash has piled up. The width of the river is already very small. It’s also heavily silted already. That’s what we’re going to remove now.)The demolition came after Mayor Michael Rama, during his second “investment begging” trip to the National Capital Region met with Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista last Tuesday, Sept. 13, to ensure that the CPA would allow the measures that Task Force Gubat sa Baha (War against Flood) intended to implement in Pier 3.This was revealed Friday in a video presentation shown during the press conference that Rama called on Friday afternoon at the Waterfront Hotel & Casino Mactan to reveal the results of his investment mission.Writ of kalikasanAccording to Cimatu, the city government’s move to ask the Supreme Court for the issuance of a writ of kalikasan will reinforce the city’s campaign in removing illegal structures built within the three-meter easement of waterways.“That is what we are doing in Manila. That is also the same as what we are engaging now… Ganun rin ang mangyayari. Ito na rin ‘yon. This is the start,” said Cimatu.Meanwhile, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chairman Gerardo Carillo said he will seek the help of Councilor Joel Garganera for the crafting of the petition.Carillo said Garganera was able to file a writ of kalikasan in 2016 when the latter asked the court to suspend the operation of the Inayawan landfill.“We had a meeting, and he (Garganera) will be supporting us in the drafting because, according to him, daghan kaayo ni og (there are many) technicalities ang (involved in getting a) writ of kalikasan,” Carillo said.Carillo also mentioned that environmental organizations like Oceana and the Environmental Legal Assistance Center also expressed their willingness to assist the city government in filing the petition.Once the writ of kalikasan is filed, Carillo said, the court will then command various government agencies to set aside funds and monitor the rehabilitation of the rivers.The respondents of the petition are still being identified because several private companies have violated environmental laws by throwing their waste in the waterways, he added. (CTL)