THE Mandaue City Government is planning again to conduct another clearing operation to relocate families living within the three-meter easement of the different rivers in the city.
Lawyer Jamaal James Calipayan, city administrator, told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, August 9, 2022, that they started the clearing operations in 2012 but suspended it in 2020 to give the residents leeway due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Among the areas that were affected by the clearing operations were Centro-Tipolo Creek, Ibabao-Estancia Creek, Casili-Consolacion Creek (Cubacub area), Basak Creek, Cansaga Bridge (mangrove area), particularly Mahiga Creek, and the Butuanon River.
Mahiga and Butuanon, the city's two main rivers, are their top priorities. These areas are also prone to flood.
Calipayan said they have not discussed yet when to resume their operation, but as of now, they are still determining the number of informal settlers that would be affected by the demolition.
Data from the Housing and Urban Development Office (Hudo) showed that there are a total of 1,161 families in Butuanon River and 714 families in Mahiga Creek that illegally situated in 2013. This dropped to 839 and 597, respectively, as of this year.
A significant drop of informal settlers has also been noticed in other areas from 2013 to 2022, such as Centro-Tipolo from 622 to 318, Mactan Channel from 719 to 616, and Basak Creek from 235 to 195 families.
Casili-Consolacion Creek remained with 13 families, while Cansaga Bridge has a slight increase of informal settlers from 174 in 2013 to 180 in 2022.
Ibabao-Estancia, on the other hand, had already been cleared of illegal settlers, composed of 171 families, in 2013.
Vincent Gay Aquino, Hudo head, said about 1,200 of the informal settlers who will be affected by the clearing operations, particularly in Mahiga and Butuanon, have availed themselves of the housing project offered by the City Government in 6.5 Zone Ahos in Barangay Paknaan, while others availed themselves of the Balik Probinsya program by the City Social Welfare and Services (CSWS), where the beneficiaries received P10,000 financial assistance.
Earlier, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said he would clear the three-meter zone on each side of the rivers to prevent casualties and accidents should a heavy downpour or typhoon hit the city.
He also said the City Government would establish nature parks in these areas once cleared to protect the environment and prevent informal settlers from returning. (HIC)