Beyond praying the ‘big one’ won’t hit us-A A +A
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
FLOODING in Bayawan City in Negros Oriental. Unusually large waves in Talisay City’s coastal areas.
The two recent incidents told us once more of the fragility of our existence. They also reminded me of the one concern that Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama amply outlined when he gathered editors and opinion makers last week. The problem of flooding in the city is serious, he admitted.
The mayor talked about how heavy rain could spawn flash floods that could already reach dangerous levels in many areas of the city’s plains. He knew the causes:
obstruction of waterways by structures built by the rich (commercial establishments) and the poor (informal settlers) alike, and an obsolete drainage system.
Because of the threat, he created Redz (Reduction of Danger Zones), now headed by former city councilor Jose “Joey” Daluz III. But the question I had to ask was how fast is the city dealing with the problem before the next prolonged and heavy downpour hits us.
His first answer was reassuring: Daluz is working doubly hard, conducting meetings at least once a week and following up tasks. The second answer was not: We just have to pray that the weather disturbance that hit hard other areas would continue to spare us. And he hopes the flash floods won’t surge when it’s dark and people are asleep.
The Cebu City Council held a special session Monday and tackled the second supplemental budget (SB 2) that Rama submitted to the body for deliberation. Allies of the mayor led by Councilor James Cuenco pushed for the swift passage of SB 2, considering that many items there were for expenses of urgent nature, like the P16 million in financial aid for the Oct. 28 barangay polls.
“Please give us time to look into it,” Councilor Margarita Osmeña, chairperson of the budget and finance committee, said. SB 2 was submitted to Osmeña’s committee past 5 p.m. Friday. Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella appealed to Osmeña’s committee to render a report on its study of SB 2 during today’s regular session of the city council.
I actually agree with Osmeña’s idea that she “shouldn’t be rushed” especially on matters that concern money of the City Government. But the line that separates honest fiscalizing and politicking is thin. How the majority Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) councilors will deal with SB 2 will determine how they will treat other major concerns.
In the same forum with the media, I asked the mayor about the true state of the city’s finances. He couldn’t provide figures, but he ended up giving an assurance that the city is financially sound, backing that claim with the argument about the assets he can lean on.
“SRP (South Road Properties) is money, the lot near the Waterfront hotel is money, the Citicenter is money,” he said.
And dealing with the flooding problem, indeed, involves an enormous amount of money.
Millions of pesos are needed for an improved drainage and for clearing obstructions in the city’s waterways. Daluz’s Redz is embarking on an ambitious clearing project at the Mahiga creek. Even that needs a good amount of money to succeed.
Meaning that cooperation, not obstruction, by the BOPK councilors is needed. For starters, both the mayor and the city council can work together and fast to map out ways to get the needed funds to fast-track the implementation of solutions to flooding in the city. If that involves selling of the city’s properties, then so be it.
Time is ticking. I shudder at the thought of us being hit even before we could address the problem. I shudder at the thought of politicking being our undoing. Who will we blame if that happens?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 09, 2013.