Cebu City councilor stops clearing operations at fire scene

A clearing operation at a fire scene in Cebu was temporarily halted after a city councilor intervened in the operation.

According to media reports, Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos of Cebu City prevented the team dispatched by Acting Mayor Edgar Labella in Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug to clear the scene.

“At the outset, Harold Alcontin, the head of the clearing team, was prevented to pursue the clearing. Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos was there and other barangay officials. Alcontin asked for my assistance so I went there and proceeded to the area,” Labella said.

However, Delos Santos said that he did not block the team, but instead asked them to postpone their operations since there are residents who are not in favor of re-blocking the area due to fear of being displaced.

“[I] just want to make a categorical statement. I did not block the clearing [team] but asked them to temporarily stop since some fire victims asked my assistance to have it stopped [because] they did not accede to it,” said Delos Santos, who was the former barangay captain of Lahug.

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According to the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC), clearing and re-blocking the area is necessary in order to address the problems that firefighters have faced when they tried to put out the fire in the barangay on December 26.

Councilor David Tumulak, head of the CCDRRMC, said that pursuing with the operations would allow the government to establish better road networks that responders can easily access especially in times of emergency.

“I told the residents that it is for their own good because it is the policy of the city government never to dislocate you. At the same time, we have to insist re-blocking,” Labella said.

Barangay Lahug has declared a state of calamity to enable the local government unit to utilize its funds to assist the 235 families who were affected by the fire that hit the area on Saturday evening.