Stores warned: Tear down structures or lose business

Stores warned: Tear down structures or lose business
Photo by Yans Baroy

BUSINESS establishments whose structures encroached on the three-meter easement zone of rivers and waterways in Cebu City should voluntarily remove their structures or risk affecting their commercial operations, the chief implementer in the fight against flooding said on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

In a phone interview, Ret. Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, chief implementer of Cebu City’s Task Force Gubat sa Baha, told SunStar Cebu that the 72-hour deadline indicated in the final notices sent to the violators last week had lapsed on Monday, April 29.

The final notices were issued to 33 business establishments along Estero de Parian.

Feliciano said the task force’s river troopers had followed up with the owners and managers of the 33 business establishments on whether they were willing to voluntarily clear the whole or part of their structure that had encroached on the easement zone along the Estero de Parian.

These commercial establishments include well-known businesses along Colon and Manalili streets such as Colonnade Supermarket, 138 Mall and Gaisano Main, according to the social media account of the Cebu City Government.

“In our initial engagement, more than 50 percent are willing to cooperate,” Feliciano said.

“They can clear on their own, or we can offer some assistance,” he added.

However, if there are establishments that will resist complying with the final notices, Feliciano said the task force will endorse to the Business Permit and Licensing Office the issuance of a cease and desist order (CDO) against the commercial establishments.

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

Feliciano said he also wants to issue notices to commercial establishments on the other major waterways in the city such as the Guadalupe River.

If the business establishment fails to remove its encroaching structure despite the CDO, Feliciano said Mayor Michael Rama, with the approval of the Cebu City Council, will issue a clearing order against the establishments.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach out to the management of Colonnade Supermarket and 138 Mall for comment on Tuesday. But a manager from 138 Mall refused to comment, saying that they are only leasing the building. As for Colonnade Supermarket, the manager was not in the office.

In a report on Monday posted on the official social media arm of the Cebu City Government, the Task Force Gubat sa Baha (TFGB) said two establishments, namely Harbour City Dimsum House Co. and Maryjoy Corp (Marvies Pension House), had already initiated voluntary clearing operations on their structures.

No build zones

Feliciano said these notices and clearing operations are ongoing efforts of the City Government to recover the three-meter easement along Estero de Parian.

He said Presidential Decree 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines mandates the three-meter zones from rivers or waterways in cities as “no build zones.”

“Kaning mga easement, (kung) madevelop na nato, mahimo na siya nga park. Can you just imagine nga on both sides of the river kay you can walk, jog and hang around? So dako ni mahatag sa atong community,” Feliciano said. (The easement zones can be developed into parks. So these can give a lot to our community.)

Informal settlers

For residential structures of informal settler families (ISF) built on top or along the three-meter easement zones, he said the priority would be the relocation site before the clearing operation.

He said that in Estero de Parian, about 91 ISFs had been identified.

Feliciano said the City Government through the task force will build a temporary housing facility at the South Road Properties within the month of May.

“Initially, we are planning to build 500 temporary housing,” he said.

He added that the City Government has allocated at least P600 million through the budget of the Department of Engineering and Public Works.

Feliciano said the temporary housing for 500 families is an initial figure as it is not yet enough to accommodate the relocation of all ISFs located along the city’s major rivers and waterways.

In the first quarter of 2023, TFGB co-chairman Gerardo Carillo estimated that 16,000 to 18,000 informal settlers live within the three-meter easement zones of the city’s major waterways. / EHP

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