MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to coordinate with local government units (LGU) and other agencies in relocating informal settlers in Cebu displaced by Typhoon Odette.
In a pre-recorded meeting with government officials, Duterte said the DPWH should work with LGUs for possible resettlement of families who will be relocated from “no-build zones” or areas deemed dangerous to reside in.
“Alam mo you need to talk to the mayors — well, pati governors, but more importantly is how the mayor would govern his city or municipality kasi sila lang ang makaturo kung saan lilipat ‘tong mga ‘to,” Duterte said.
“Ang akin kasi, I do not want to dismantle or to destroy houses unless there is a relocation site. Malaki nga ang problema mo diyan sa totoo lang. When you begin to bulldoze those houses there, you have a problem in your hands and that is a social problem actually,” he added.
The president issued the directive as the DPWH reported about roads damaged by storm surge caused by Typhoon Odette, particularly the Santander-Barili-Toledo Road in Cebu.
DPWH Secretary Roger Mercado reported some portion of the pavement and even houses were destroyed after the typhoon hit Cebu, stressing the road must be constructed with permanent improvements.
Mercado said the DPWH will try its best to negotiate with the residents and convince them to relocate because of the dangers posed by staying near the coastline.
At the same time, the DPWH head said he issued a department order strictly implementing the road right-of-way provision of the law, as well as the no-build zone policy.
In a no-build zone, no structure should be built within the 40 meters from the centerline going towards the shore, he explained. In this case, the residents have violated the guideline because their houses are within the 40-meter no-build zone.
The DPWH said it will need P50 million to fund the permanent improvement, adding a seawall and drainage system have to be built to protect the structure from another storm surge.
“I am calling the planning and the finance and tomorrow we will — will continue to scour for money and hopefully we can report to you that — so that you will be happy, Mr. President. We will be resourceful,” Mercado said.
The DPWH chief said they have requested for augmentation fund from their savings but because of the damage, their request must be amended to fund the construction of the Santander-Barili Road section.
The project could be completed within three to four months with massive infusion of equipment and non-stop work of government contractors, he added.