News Release

DPWH instructed to work with LGUs in relocating informal settlers in Cebu

Public Works and Highways Acting Secretary Roger Mercado gives an update to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the estimated damage of infrastructures and ongoing clearing operations in Typhoon Odette-battered areas during a meeting with key government officials at the Malacañan Palace on December 27, 2021. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to work with local governments in Cebu and other government agencies in relocating informal settlers before rehabilitating the Santander-Barili-Toledo Road damaged by storm surge caused by Typhoon Odette this month.

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.

“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,” President Duterte said during his weekly Talk to the People on Monday.

“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.”

Mercado said the DPWH would try its best to negotiate with the residents and convince them to relocate because of the dangers posed by staying near the coastline.

“We have to talk to our Secretary Del Rosario and GM sa kuwan — Escalada, sir, of the National Housing Authority and the LGU also,” he told the President.

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 will need P50 million to fund the permanent improvement, Mercado said, 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 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.

According to Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go, the DPWH can use the quick response fund (QRF) of the Disaster Fund for immediate disbursement based on the advice of the budget department.

The DPWH chief said the project could be completed within three to four months with massive infusion of equipment and non-stop work of government contractors. PND