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Utility firms seek exemption from proposed ‘Anti-Road Obstruction Ordinance’

By: Wenilyn B. Sabalo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | February 09,2023 - 04:45 PM

Utility firms seek exemption from proposed 'Anti-Road Obstruction Ordinance'.

File photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Two public utility firms have requested to be exempted from a proposed ordinance that would free the city’s sidewalks and road-right-of-way (RROW) from obstructions.

Representatives of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) appeared before the City Council on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, in a public hearing for a proposed ordinance authored by Councilor Rey Gealon.

Gealon is proposing an ordinance, with a shortened title of “Anti-Road Obstruction Ordinance of the City of Cebu,” that aims to impose restrictions on the use of the Road-Right-of-Way (RROW), alleys, sidewalks, pathways, parks, and public places within the city.

This measure specifically prohibits the following activities on sidewalks: construction of dwelling units, the conduct of any kind or job or occupation; parking any vehicle or part thereof in a space not designated as parking space, and display or selling of any items.

It also prohibits encroaching or covering the canal and the passageway, carwash activities, placing of signages, closing sidewalks without securing Sidewalk Enclosure Permit from the Office of the City Engineer, and conducting religious activities, such as preaching and seeking alms.

Jan Mikhail Villarino, head of VECO’s power system design, on Wednesday, asked the proponent of the proposed ordinance to include in the ordinance’s exceptions VECO’s operations, maintenance, inspection activities, installation of new poles and lines, and distribution assets.

He also mentioned some provisions of RA 9339 and RA 11361, which mentioned their mandate to provide continuous service to customers, and that there should be no obstruction to their maintenance and operational activities to provide continuous electric service to its customers.

Likewise, PLDT Head of Operations Montano Oplas said they hoped to continue operating their existing facilities that might fall within the restrictions in the ordinance.

He, however, said that PLDT already had an ongoing program that would involve pulling out all their equipment as they would migrate from copper to fiber lines.

In the draft, the exceptions only include limited use for special occasions such as fiestas, wakes, and other social gatherings and sale promotion days and activities for charitable purposes.

Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, for her part, said if utility companies would need to put up posts or other equipment in an area, they should coordinate with the owner of the lot concerned rather than having them on the sidewalks.

“There are existing ordinances and laws pertaining to utilization of the road in certain hours. But then, in this particular ordinance, what has been specified here it’s really those, more or less, permanent in nature that they utilized the public road as well as the open spaces, the sidewalks like you construct a store. It’s not allowed,” she said.

“I don’t think that VECO will install a post on the street or the sidewalk. We have to stop this so-called practice we put structures on the sidewalks, I think, if they want to put, what you call, when necessary, another post, they should coordinate with the lot owner rather than it would be on the sidewalk,” she added.

Aside from VECO and PLDT, the Metropolitan Cebu Water District and the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office submitted position papers to comment on the proposed ordinance, Council secretary, Lawyer Charisse Piramide, said.

CDN Digital, however, has yet to get copies of the position papers.

Gealon, for his part, said he would take into consideration the opinion discussed during the public hearing.

The measure is still subject for final deliberation.


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TAGS: CDN, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, PLDT, proposed ordinance, VECO

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