FISH pen owners in Barangay Banilad, Mandaue City have appealed to the City Government to rethink its decision to demolish their properties believed to have been the cause of flooding in some parts of the city.
Saying that the fish pens were their only source of income, Tubigan Banilad Homeowners Association president Oliver Cabahug called on Mandaue City officials to talk to them personally as they were not consulted on the matter.
In an interview with SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Cabahug said they were surprised when a notice to vacate the area in three days or by Friday, October 20 was handed to them by Housing and Urban Development Office (Hudo) personnel and they were given P28,000 cash assistance.
In an interview on Friday, Hudo chief Johnbee Bitod said the fish pen owners were given three days to voluntarily demolish their structures.
“Otherwise, we will do it for them next week,” Biton said.
For his part, Virgilio Mepieza, another fish pen operator said they fear the loss of their only means of income that had earned them at least earn P5,000 a week. More than half of fish pen operators are also residents of the area.
Mepieza said most of them had been operating fish pens for 28 years producing koi, shobon, and tilapia directly bought by clients who visit them.
Cabahug and Mepieza denied that the fish pens were to blame for flooding in the area during downpours.
John Eddu Ibañez, head of the Mandaue City Legal Office and Task Force Atong Problema, Atong Solusyon, said they plan to demolish at least 20 fish pens in Barangay Banilad as part of the City’s flood mitigation effort.
Ibañez said they will continue to negotiate with affected fish pen owners and provide them with cash assistance as their businesses get compromised with the City’s clearing operations.
In a press conference last Oct. 5, the task force underscored the need to dismantle fish pens in Banilad and those in Barangay Cabancalan as these areas supposedly function as catch basins to hold rain and run-off water from neighboring places like Cebu City.
Marlo Ocleasa, head of the Mandaue City Planning and Development Office, said these areas failed to serve their purpose because they are engulfed in thick silt.
Silt refers to fine sand, clay, or other materials carried by running water and deposited as sediment, especially in a channel or harbor.
Ibañez explained that these fish pens hinder their desilting and dredging operations and block the water flow, resulting in floods.
“These (fish pens) are private properties, but we need to remove them because they are part of our waterways. By that, the water could subside because, during rains, the water often overflows,” said Ibañez.
Buddy Alain Ybañez, head of Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MCDRRMO), said they continue to suction water in flood-prone areas as part of “immediate solutions” while waiting for the City’s comprehensive drainage master plan to be fully realized.
Ybañez said MCDRRMO personnel equipped with suction pumps had been deployed to flood-prone areas, such as Barangay Tipolo and the area near the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue (UCLM) campus in Barangay Looc, to vacuum floodwater.
Aside from suctions, Ibañez said they continue to declog and clean drainage in flood-prone areas like Barangay Tipolo, UCLM area in Looc, LH Prime Medical Clinic in Bakilid, and the Cebu Rolling Hills Memorial Chapels Inc. in Banilad.