Rama says Guadalupe River is pilot area for river rehab
The historic Guadalupe River will serve as the pilot area for the rehabilitation of Cebu City’s rivers to be spearheaded by Senate President Franklin Drilon, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama told reporters yesterday.
Rama, who returned to Cebu City after several meetings in Manila that included one with Drilon, said they decided on the Guadalupe River because it divides the city’s north and south areas.
“If Guadalupe (River’s beauty can be restored) it will no longer be just a (physical) divider but a connection that will bridge and bind the gap between the city’s north and south,” Rama said.
The mayor said the restoration of Guadalupe River goes hand in hand with proposals from the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp (MPTC) to build the third Cebu-Mactan bridge that starts near the mouth of the Guadalupe River.
“Let’s first move and have things done. The most important thing is we’ve been there and we have a direction. More meetings will be done, more consultations. Because as the saying goes, if it happened in Iloilo, there’s no reason why it cannot happen in Cebu,” Rama said.
Unlike Iloilo which had only 1,000 informal settlers to relocate in order to allow development of its River Esplanade, Cebu City has 10,000 settlers along its waterways.
Councilor Nida Cabrera, who heads the council’s committee on environment, said relocation must be an integral part of the city’s plans to rehabilitate rivers.
“For me, it’s okay, but we have to address also the relocation of the informal settlers. In Iloilo, the people had no problem because it was part of the plan and the relocation site was ready,” she said.
Cabrera was part of the informal talks about the rehabilitation of the Guadalupe River during the Bayanihan sa Daan awards in Malacañang.
Councilor Alvin Dizon, who heads the committee on housing, said the city really needs to mobilize its own funds on relocation.
“I welcome Senator Drilon’s support. We, in the city government, always have a choice. We can choose to fully implement the law and that is not only to evict the informal settlers but to ensure that proper and adequate relocation is provided,” he said.
Dizon said the city has appropriated P850 million in funds for the relocation and housing of the city’s settlers.
He said under Rama’s administration, only P75 million had been mobilized.
Rama also defended Raquel Arce, head of Cebu City Hall’s Prevention Restoration Order Beautification Enhancement (Probe) team, who faces the prospect of being charged with usurpation of authority and illegal demolition by former mayor Tomas Osmeña.
The charges stemmed from the demolition of 26 structures in a road lot along Ma. Cristina road in barangay Capitol Site.
Osmeña said the area where the residents stayed at isn’t owned by the Cebu City government but by the Osmeña clan.
“You better ask that fellow. He just wants to be significant. He lost. And if he intends to come back, maybe this is his means that he would like to be famous again. To be called Mr. Complainant, Mr. Masteral and Doctorate of fishing expedition,” Rama said.
Rama also said his administration will defend the department heads from any charge raised by Osmeña.
Osmeña filed administrative complaints against City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas before the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Department of Finance (DOF) for her alleged lapses in handling Cebu City’s finances.
He also sought the disqualification of City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo whom he said resides in Consolacion town and not in Cebu City.
Castillo said his wife and her family are longtime residents of barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.
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