‘Open Malacañang sa Sugbo’

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama wants the National Government to open Malacañang sa Sugbo with the impending closure of Sergio Osmeña Blvd. in the North Reclamation Area.

Rama described Malacañang sa Sugbo as useless in the nearly four years that President Benigno Aquino III has been president.

Rama and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella led a “walk through” of the stretch of the boulevard from the area of the Radisson Blu Hotel down to the uninhabited Malacañang sa Sugbo.

They were accompanied by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 project engineer Rogelio Macapobre, Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Executive Director Rafael Yap and operations chief Jonathan Tumulak, City Attorney Jerone Castillo and WT Construction consultant Engr. Adolfo Quiroga, who was also the former provincial engineer and representatives of the business establishments that will be affected by the said road closure.

Contractor Willy Te joined the first half of the three-hour ocular inspection.

Closure

The road concreting of the boulevard did not start yesterday and the closure was not implemented.

Te said the contractor had to heed the directive of the mayor, who postponed work because of the complaints raised by the establishments in the area like SM City Cebu, Radisson Blu Hotel and Cokaliong Shipping Lines, among others.

Only the northbound side will be closed to vehicular traffic.

At the Malacañang sa Sugbo, Rama and his entourage passed through a blocked gate. The mayor asked a man playing basketball inside the compound to help him move the barbed wire fence so he could pass through. He told his entourage, which already included Tinago Barangay Captain Joel Garganera and Waterfront Police Station Chief Wildemar Tiu, “That’s a road and it should be open.”

He was referring to a road from pier one that would go straight to Compaña Maritima. It was impeded by a gate surrounding the Malacañang.

Rallyists

Rama said the railings in front of Malacañang sa Sugbo are not owned by the National Government, since he directed these to be put up when rallyists protested against then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005.

When Sun.Star Cebu asked whether he should force open the gates when the road closure is implemented, Rama said, “It should be open because if not, we are going to be a jungle.”

He was expecting heavy traffic once the boulevard is closed.

A Presidential Security Guard assigned at the Malacañang sa Sugbo didn’t seem happy with Rama’s intrusion, especially since he passed through the back gate, which was blocked with barbed wire.

“Dapat may coordination kasi ire-report ko to sa Malacañang (There should have been coordination because I’m going to report this to Malacañang),” the PSG, in civilian clothing, told Sun.Star Cebu.

When told of this, Rama said he connected with Undersecretary Odette Ong last Sunday.

The mayor was told to write Malacañang but Rama said there is no time as the situation is urgent.

“I sent an invitation to Odette to send a representative from Malacañang for today’s walk through but no representative was sent,” said Rama.

Rama and the rest of the group proceeded to the sidewalk of the northbound side to go back to where the inspection started.

At the Qimonda IT Center, the group stopped as Rama asked how vehicular and pedestrian traffic can go to and from the building, which will house the 22 Cebu City Regional Trial Courts.

Rama, Tumulak and Macapobre huddled to discuss traffic plan in the area.

Since the northbound side will be closed, Rama is concerned about how pedestrian will cross from the southbound side to Qimonda but was told by Macapobre that a pedestrian lane will be provided.

Central Cebu

Vehicles coming from the north and central Cebu City will use the entry point in corner Gen. Maxilom Ave. and S. Osmeña Blvd. to E. S. Baclig while those coming from the south can go straight to Qimonda using E. S. Baclig.

While DPWH is not inclined to sign the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will be prepared by Castillo for parties concerned to sign like Rama, Cebu Ports Authority, WT Construction, business establishments represented by Chester Cokaliong and DPWH; Macapobre said it heeded Rama’s call for postponement as part of a gentleman’s agreement.

“There is no need for an MOU because there is no precedent for that. We just agreed to the postponement but one week is too far off and we’re in a hurry to implement this project,” said Macapobre.

Deadline

Quiroga agreed, saying further postponement would mean the contractor may not beat the Oct. 28 deadline imposed by Rama.

Rama stopped several times to pick up large rocks obstructing the sidewalk and asked his people to remove unnecessary items like a hose, cable wire, flattened boxes that officials suspected were used for sex-for-hire activities, and a hammock.

Rama also instructed Yap and Tumulak to restore the sidewalk as extension of houses were already encroaching on it.

Rama also showed Labella parts of Tejero Creek and Logarta Creek where garbage and human wastes were visible from the bridge along S. Osmeña.

“You see that structure? It’s an extension of the house. That should not be there. That’s why we have to restore the three-meter easement of rivers,” Rama said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 12, 2014.

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