Sunday, June 3, 2012

Graft case stops river clearing; mayor fears more floods in Cebu City

RAINS have started to pour and Cebu City streets are, again, flooded. But as much as the Cebu City Government wants to push through with the clearing operations within the three-meter easement along rivers, Mayor Michael Rama said an anti-graft case is preventing the project’s continuation. A group of informal settlers filed a graft complaint against the mayor and some City Hall officials involved in the clearing of Mahiga Creek. The case is pending before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas. Rama said that Alvin Santillana of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and Harold Alcontin of the Management Information and Computer System (Mics) received threats due to the clearing operations. Rama directed barangay officials to help. He cited Barangay Talamban officials who became aware of the risk of allowing informal settlers to reside near rivers when two men perished after the collapse of a retaining wall in Casa del Rio subdivision. He said barangay officials could have prevented the tragedy had they prevented people from living near the river. Rama also blamed the annual budget cut for the flood problem, saying the P500 million he proposed for drainage projects was reduced to P100 million in the 2012 budget. The mayor assured, though, that the desilting of rivers continues.