Anti-flood Task Force targets gov’t offices

Tinago Barangay Hall, shown here on May 2, 2024, received a “Notice of Violation” from Cebu City’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha for the concrete wall behind it that lies within the three-meter easement zone of the Estero de Parian. /
Tinago Barangay Hall, shown here on May 2, 2024, received a “Notice of Violation” from Cebu City’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha for the concrete wall behind it that lies within the three-meter easement zone of the Estero de Parian. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

THE Task Force Gubat sa Baha of the Cebu City Government has not spared government offices and facilities in its campaign to clear the three-meter easement zone along the Estero de Parian in the city’s downtown and port areas.

On its social media page Wednesday, May 1, 2024, the Cebu City Government said the task force had issued the “Notice of Violation” to the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH 7), particularly its Equipment Management Division, along Sergio Osmeña Blvd., the Commission on Audit regional office (COA 7) on M.J. Cuenco Ave., and the Tinago Barangay Hall on Arellano Blvd.

The task force urged these offices to comply with the 72-hour notice to voluntarily demolish or clear their structures, such as concrete fences built on the side of the river, that have encroached on the three-meter easement zone of the Estero de Parian.

A warehouse rented by Unitop along M.J. Cuenco Ave. was among the establishments that had been issued a notice, the Cebu City Government said.

In a phone interview on Thursday, retired general Melquiades Feliciano, chief implementer of the Task Force Gubat sa Baha (War against Flooding), said Tinago Barangay Captain Dennis Arciaga had expressed willingness to comply with the request.

As of press time, SunStar Cebu was still awaiting the response of COA 7 Director Visitacion Mendoza and DPWH 7 Director Ernesto Gregorio Jr. to its emailed requests for comment.

If these offices choose not to comply, Feliciano said the City Government can still recover the three-meter easement zone as mandated by Presidential Decree 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines, which prohibits the construction of permanent structures within three meters of the rivers and waterways.

He said the Office of the City Mayor can issue a clearing order against these structures.

“There is a violation of the law. Even if it’s a property owned by the City Government, we can still conduct demolition and recover the three-meter easement zone, regardless of ownership,” Feliciano said.

In a separate interview, Arciaga told SunStar Cebu that he does not oppose the City Government wanting to demolish the concrete fence built on the side of Estero de Parian and around its covered court and barangay hall. He said no residents will be affected by the upcoming clearing operation.

He also made it clear that the concrete fence or wall was not built during his term. What’s more, he said it was part of the structure built by the DPWH 7 EMD section nearby.

His only request was that once demolished, the City Government would install railings along the river to avoid untoward incidents, such as residents, especially children, falling into the creek.

Commercial establishments

On the other hand, Feliciano said collaboration with the 33 commercial establishments that also encroached on the easement zone of the Estero de Parian continues, particularly with 138 Mall, Colonnade Supermarket and Gaisano Main.

Earlier, the task force gave a 72-hour deadline to these commercial establishments to voluntarily remove their encroaching structures. That deadline lapsed on April 29.

Feliciano said Colonnade Supermarket management engaged in discussion on Thursday with his river commander for Estero de Parian, Aderson Comar, chief of the City’s Prevention Restoration Order Beautification and Enhancement (Probe) team.

Feliciano said arrangements can be made with the owners of the establishment for adjustments that will fit the complicated designs of the structures.

On top of the estero

For Colonnade Supermarket and Gaisano Main, where a portion of their structures is situated on top of the Estero de Parian, Feliciano said a three-meter easement can still be recovered on the ground floor, while the second and higher floors will be left suspended or hanging.

This means that posts built along the creek or at the center of the creek would not be demolished in order to protect the building’s structural integrity; however, the fences or walls on the side of the river have to be removed and cleared to recover the three-meter easement zones, he said.

“This is why we trying to approach this on a case-to-case basis,” he said.

Feliciano added he has ordered the river commanders and troopers to other rivers and waterways to start issuing notices against commercial, government and residential structures that have encroached on the easement zones.

Compliant

He said several commercial establishments along Parian were acknowledged by the task force through the issuance of a “Certificate of Compliance” for voluntarily demolishing their encroaching structures.

These include Dimsum House, Marvies Pension House, The Freeman, St. Peter & Paul, JLS Fashion, Delfa’s Tongolan, Ho Tong Hardware, M Lhuillier Pawnshop, Hi Pace, Edna’s Eatery, and Daniel Malonar Story situated in the barangays of Parian and San Roque.

The Estero de Parian flows through Barangays Parian, San Roque, Sto. Niño and Tinago.

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