THE Cebu City Government will implement its “Food for Work” program within the first 100 days of the Rama administration, Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias, chairman of the council committee on infrastructure, said yesterday.

The “Food for Work” is designed for residents in the barangays to clean and desilt their drainage systems, canals, esteros and other waterways in exchange for rice and canned goods.

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City Hall also wants informal settlers along rivers, creeks and under bridges to return to their towns so the City can address the drainage problem, Cabarrubias said.

Their illegal structures are among the main causes of flooding in the city because these block heavy equipment from cleaning, dredging and desilting the waterways, he said.

Mayor Michael Rama issued an order last week, asking informal settlers to

vacate areas they are occupying. The improvement of the City’s drainage system is one of the mayor’s priorities in his first 100 days of office.

Cabarrubias said informal settlers, especially those under the Basak Pardo-Kinasang-an Bridge and downstream of the Cogon-Basak Pardo boundary, are the targets of their crackdown.

“They should go back to where they come from. We can’t give them any cash or fare, but we can provide them with a vehicle to take them home. They can take down their dwellings and take these with them and the vehicle will take them wherever they’re going,” he said in Cebuano.

At least 20 shanties in both areas will be affected by the mayor’s order.

“Once they’re gone, we can start the digging and the dredging so water from the mountains will go straight to the ocean.

There will be no more backflow. If we don’t clean our rivers, this increases the risk of flooding,” he said in Cebuano.

Greater good

Cabarrubias hopes informal settlers will understand the move, saying that dismantling of their settlements is not an anti-poor move. It is for the greater good of the residents, he said.

“We do feel sorry for them, but we can’t always be sorry otherwise we can’t implement the law. If we can’t implement the law, there’s no order.

So how do we solve the city’s drainage problems? Most of the flooding incidents are caused by their illegal structures,” he said in Cebuano.

Mayor Rama has given affected informal settlers 10 days to vacate their areas.

On the “Food for Work” program, Cabarrubias said it’s easier for them to pay in kind than in cash since processing the salary takes two to three months at City Hall.

“Ang ato man gung gamiton pagpalit sa mga bugas ug de lata gikan man sa calamity fund, so, dali ra ang releasing (We will use money from the calamity fund so budget is released faster),” Cabarrubias said.

Cabarrubias said he will sponsor a council resolution declaring certain barangays under a state of disaster preparedness so they can use the calamity fund.

He said they have identified two barangays that will serve as pilot areas, Mambaling in the south district and Tejero in the north district.

Silted

The two barangays have been recommended by the Cebu City Disaster

Coordinating Council (CCDCC) due to their silted drainage systems and waterways.

Cabarrubias met yesterday with the personnel of the city engineering, drainage and maintenance section to map out their plan.

He expects that by tomorrow, the engineering department can submit the Program of works and estimates (Powe).

Cabarrubias said the Powe will determine the amount of silted materials to be taken out and the quantity of the rice and canned goods to be given to the workers in return.

The councilor is hoping that the Food for Work program can start late this month, now that the rainy season has started.

He said the program can also contribute to other programs of the city,

like the anti-dengue campaign.

Cabarrubias said if the implementation of the program will be successful in the two pilot areas, it will be expanded to other urban barangays.

“We will also call other barangays especially those considered as danger zones,” Cabarrubias said.

He said they will coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Services for the effective implementation of the program.

The Food for Work program was implemented by the National Government when typhoon Pepang and Ondoy visited the country last year.