Stating the obvious

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Saturday, April 26, 2014


WHEN the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 announced it would rehabilitate S. Osmeña Blvd. in the North Reclamation Area earlier this year, I remember Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama telling the agency that he wanted it done by November, or before Christmas and the Sinulog, even though the DPWH 7 already slated the period of completion for April 10, 2015.

I assume the mayor didn’t want to inconvenience the riding public and tourists who are expected to flock to the city during this period.

But there had been several apprehensions even before the project began. Top on the public’s mind was the traffic that would ensue once the rerouting scheme was implemented. S. Osmeña Blvd. is a major artery that connects the north and the south of the metro in one straight line. Many establishments would be affected by the road closure, not to mention the dust that the project would generate.

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This worried the Citom so much that it said it would “constantly assess” the situation and it would make necessary adjustments to improve the rerouting scheme.

When asked how bad they expected the traffic to get, Citom operations chief Jonathan Tumulak even joked, “Mo-smile na lang mi.”

The Cebu City Government, DPWH 7, Cebu Port Authority and WT Construction also signed a memorandum of understanding that they would convene to study and discuss the impact of the project in the area once the first phase of the project is completed.

Let’s fast-forward to the present.
The contractor, WT Construction, is being sued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 for the disappearance of 79 trees along S. Osmeña Blvd.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7, last Thursday, said it would help investigate the disappearance of the trees.

Last Friday, the Cebu City Council held an executive session to review the full footage captured by the CCTV on the thoroughfare from March 26 to 31, or the dates which Councilor Dave Tumulak believes the uprooting started.

It also invited representatives from DENR 7 to watch the footage in a closeddoor viewing. Members of the media and other guests were barred from the session hall for security reasons.

Seriously? What threat did they pose? Councilor Nida Cabrera later said it was clear in the video that a clearing operation was done in the area where WT Construction’s dump trucks and other heavy equipment have been deployed, according to a report by Sun.Star Cebu’s Razel V. Cuizon yesterday.
And although she didn’t see the entire footage, Cabrera said she could already confirm who was behind the disappearance.

“It’s very obvious,” Cabrera told reporters. Well thank you, councilor. Obviously the trees didn’t walk out of the center island of S. Osmeña Blvd. by themselves. They needed help. So was it then? Hmm? Earlier in the week, the mayor said the island and the trees have to be restored because “they add to the aesthetic value in the area.”

During the same interview, the mayor was asked if they were able to discuss the case the DENR 7 filed against WT Construction, he admitted
they did but he did not elaborate.

Judging by his reactions to the trees’ disappearance, the matter is not of utmost importance to the mayor. So why go through the hullaballoo of earlier refusing to give the DENR 7 a copy of the CCTV footage?

The fact that the matter had to get to this point only displays the absurdity of the situation.

***
Without Super Bob’s help, joggers would still have been barred from the South Road Properties. Thank you very much, Super Bob.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 27, 2014.

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