Cebu City mayor warned against clearing Mandaue side of Mahiga Creek

November 9, 2011 10:38 pm 

CEBU CITY, Nov. 9 – Urban poor leaders in Mandaue City have warned Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama they are ready to file charges against him if he pushes through with his plan to remove informal settlers living along the Mandaue side of the Mahiga Creek.

The Mahiga Creek is a natural boundary between the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.

In a press conference, heads of 12 urban poor organizations in Mandaue City expressed their disappointment with Rama over his plan to forcibly remove informal settlers living in the Mahiga Creek, even those living outside Cebu City.

Leopoldo Chavez, president of the Mahayag Homeowners’ Association and coordinator of the Homeless People’s Federation Cebu Chapter, said Rama should coordinate with Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes before he proceeds with his plan.

He questioned Rama’s plan, as the Mandaue side of the Mahiga Creek is not part of his jurisdiction.

If Rama fails to coordinate with Mayor Cortes and proceeds with their removal, Chavez said he and 11 other urban poor leaders will file charges of harassment and for violation of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 against the Cebu City mayor.

Chavez said that should Rama’s plan push through, about 700 families living along the Mahiga Creek will be affected.

But Mayor Rama said the problem is not just with the three-meter easement of Mandaue City but the river itself.

He explained that there are structures on the river that need to be cleared for dredging.

He said this is why he will talk with Engr. Nicomedes Leonor of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) first engineering district.

”This is not anymore Mandaue City or Cebu City but the water itself, which is under the jurisdiction of DPWH,” Rama said.

According to the mayor, the dredging project has been awarded but operations could not push through because of the structures in the “mouth" of the river.

Cebu City’s Squatters Prevention, Elimination and Encroachment Division (Speed) Chief Noel Artes said they are just waiting for a go-signal from Rama and DPWH to clear the area.

Artes said a series of meetings with Mandaue City officials to clear their part of Mahiga Creek were not fruitful.

This is because Mandaue City is allegedly still looking for relocation sites for those families that will be affected by the clearing operations.

Artes said it’s taking too long.

Mandaue City Planning Officer Florentino Nimor pointed out that the transfer of informal settlers from the Mahiga Creek will possibly start before Christmas this year, with the 6.5-hectare relocation site in Barangay Paknaan ready for their use.

More than 1,200 settlers have availed themselves of the relocation site, majority of whom are those living along the Mahiga Creek.

They plan to transfer 200 of the 700 Mahiga settlers to the site within the period.

Nimor denied they have done nothing to relocate the city’s informal settlers from Mahiga Creek.

Aside from the 6.5-hectare relocation site in Paknaan, they are slowly relocating the settlers to other sites, but the transfer got stalled because they were still putting up amenities in the site, such as electricity, water and drainage facilities, which have been complied with. (PNA) LAP/EB/bh

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