8 Cebu City firms told: Yield

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014


CEBU CITY -- Eight establishments in this city allegedly overstepped into a three-meter area along some of the city’s waterways, a situation that contributes to the flooding problem.

City Attorney Jerone Castillo said the establishments will be served a notice of violation because their structures either encroached on the easement of rivers, creeks and other waterways, or blocked these.

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Castillo said they want the establishments to remove the structures or make corrective measures as soon as possible, as a way of helping the City prevent floods. These include Ayala Center Cebu, Gaisano Main, Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) and Visayan Electric Company (Veco).

“We need to restore the easement of rivers. There are so many violations, which is why we are calling on these big business establishments. We are not suing them, suing them is the last resort. We will serve them the notice of violation and ask them to make corrective measures and restore the three-meter easement at their own cost,” Castillo told reporters.

If they fail to heed the notice, the City will have no choice but to file a case against them, he added.

As this developed, the Cebu City Council’s committee on budget and finance yesterday said the council is not delaying the implementation of drainage projects.

“As far as 2013 and 2014 are concerned, there is no pending drainage project because nothing has been endorsed to us,” said Councilor Margarita Osmeña, who heads the budget and finance committee.

Code’s provision

The City Government, through the Cebu City River Management Council (CCRMC), will send the notices regarding the easement violations starting next week.

According to the evaluation report of the CCRMC’s technical working group, the establishments that violated the Civil Code of the Philippines are Ayala Center Cebu, the sub-station of Veco in Barangay Banilad, the PLDT office on Osmeña Blvd., the Lhuillier pawnshop’s branch on Escario St. and Lot 8 Condominium in Barangay Kasambagan.

Prince Court Motel in Barangay Mabolo, and Gaisano Main and the Dimsum Break branch on Colon St. also have violations, said City Hall lawyer Mary Rose Salvatierra.

Article 638 of the Civil Code states that “the banks of rivers and streams, even in case they are of private ownership, are subject throughout their entire length and within a zone of three meters along their margins, to the easement of public use in the general interest of navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage.”

City officials earlier lamented that encroaching on the three-meter easement makes the waterways narrow, and causes water to overflow.

Residents

Salvatierra said that they decided to go after the big establishments immediately to send a message that not only residents along riverbanks are being singled out.

Also, the waterways around the eight establishments lead to Mahiga Creek, which the City is focusing on because it overflows easily.

“The council would like to make an impression that we do not tolerate violations of our laws, especially now that the problem is very evident, as can be seen after the flooding. Also, if you call the attention of those residing near waterways, they would say ‘Unaha usa na ningyong dagko.’ So we would like to set that example,” Salvatierra told reporters.

Castillo and Salvatierra assured that all violators will be given due process.

Once they receive the notice of violation, the establishments or individuals will be given 10 days to reply and explain why they encroached on the three-meter easement.

The CCRMC and the establishments’ lawyers will then sit down for a technical conference and resolve the issues separately since their violations are different, Castillo said.

Establishments

Even before they could service the notice of violation, the lawyers said that Veco already met with the CCRMC and committed to correct the violation.

Veco’s sub-station on J. Panis St. in Banilad reportedly encroached on the three-meter easement of Mahiga.

In separate phone interviews on Tuesday, Veco corporate communications manager Theresa Sederiosa and PLDT Cebu Business Zone head Bong Lintag said they will cooperate with the City and correct their violations.

Lawyer Jeanette Japzon of Cebu Holdings Inc., which manages Ayala Center Cebu, declined from commenting on the matter until they receive the notice from the City.

Salvatierra recalled that there used to be a lagoon outside the Ayala Center Cebu, where The Terraces now stands.

The manager of Gaisano Main, Ester Racho, said this is the first time she heard that their establishment violated the required easement.

She assured that they will act on the notice as soon as they receive it.

A portion of Gaisano Main’s building hangs over the creek at the back of the building and encroaches on the three-meter easement.

The managers of Dimsum Break and Prince Court were not available for comment on Tuesday.

Action

Castillo said they appreciate Veco’s immediate action and hope that other violators would do the same.

“At least we have one establishment helping already. We can show that Veco has taken the lead and we hope others will follow,” he said.

Problems with Cebu City’s drainage have again surfaced, after a heavy rain last Thursday caused floods and stalled traffic on some major roads.

It was earlier reported that some P252 million worth of drainage projects have not yet been implemented because of the lack of the council’s approval.

Of the total amount, about P100 million in drainage projects were set aside by the City under its 2012 annual budget, P52 million in 2013 and P100 million in 2014.

But Councilor Osmeña explained that the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) has only endorsed to the council P15,356,188 worth of drainage projects, for their approval.

The amount was charged to the 2012 budget yet, she said, and the endorsement was made only in July this year.

Priorities

Also, Osmeña said Tuesday that the City has allocated a total of P400 million for drainage projects this year.

However, the executive department has realigned P300 million of the total amount to fund the P325-million first supplemental budget of the City this year.

The bulk of the supplemental budget, amounting to P300 million, was used for the rebuilding of the Cebu City Medical Center.

Earlier, DEPW said the council has not yet passed a resolution allowing them to charge the drainage projects to the lump sum appropriation account, that’s why these have not yet been implemented.

The resolution is needed so the City Budget Office will sign the approved budget contract for the project. It is among the requirements so the bidding for the project can proceed. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 03, 2014.

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