Cimatu orders dredging of Cebu City’s rivers to fight flooding

John Sitchon

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Cimatu orders dredging of Cebu City’s rivers to fight flooding

FILE PHOTO. Former Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in a press briefing on the closure of Boracay at the DENR on April 6, 2018.

file photo Angie de Silva/Rappler

Roy Cimatu, Cebu City’s consultant on environmental concerns, says with deeper and wider rivers 'the water coming from the rain is not going to the streets of Cebu City, but rather towards the rivers'

CEBU CITY, Philippines –  Cebu City’s consultant on environmental concerns Roy Cimatu ordered the local “Gubat sa Baha Task Force” to dredge major rivers here in an attempt to prevent future flooding.

The task force, which the former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary now heads, was created under Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama’s Executive Order No. 5 on August 19 with the primary task of solving the city’s severe flooding problems. 

“We have to deepen and widen the rivers so that the water coming from the rain is not going to the streets of Cebu City, but rather towards the rivers,” Cimatu said in a press statement Tuesday, September 6.

Cimatu cited the experience of the dredging of the Marikina River in 2021. 

The consultant said in the statement that after the dredging operations in the Marikina River, the water flowed faster. He added, this meant that flood waters also subsided faster in Marikina City.

Cimatu’s plan to dredge the Cebu rivers is now a part of a city-wide clean-up drive set to start September 17.

The Mandaue City government, and other national agencies pledged to support the city’s clean-up drive.

Combined efforts

Jerome Castillo, Rama’s assistant on special projects, said in a statement that a master plan is being crafted with Mandaue City’s Planning and Development Office and flooding consultant, Hydronet.

Both the cities of Cebu and Mandaue share portions of the Mahiga River, and they aim to collaborate in the river’s rehabilitation. 

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) also committed to provide an amphibious floating excavator, two backhoes, two loading machines, and two dump trucks for the activity.

According to the Cebu City Public Information Office, the Philippine Coast Guard, local police, and military personnel are also set to be deployed in the clean-up drive.

3-meter easement violators receive notices

Even before the start of dredging, Cebu City has issued notices to business establishments that violated the 3-meter easement rule along major waterways.

At least 47 were given these notices and told to move their properties or face demolition. 

“Let the law be felt. Let authority be felt. Let order be observed. If not, we will set them to order,” Rama said in a meeting on Monday, September 5.

In 2020, the late Cebu City mayor Edgardo Labella sought to provide “engineering solutions” to those who encroached on rivers instead of taking “drastic measures”.

“Either they voluntarily dismantle their structures, or the City will move for their demolition,” Gerry Carillo, chairman of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a statement. –

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