On the hillylands of Barangay Budlaan, Cebu City, several residents live in peril as their homes sit dangerously at the edge of a cliff right beside a small river.
The houses numbering eight are among 62 structures of a government relocation site, with over a hundred families, owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Sitio Lower Tac-an.
The settlers, originally from Barangay Carreta, were relocated by NHA into the mountainous area three years ago.
Residents said that when they moved into the site, the eight houses were still at least two meters away from the edge of the cliff.
But incessant rains have slowly eroded the soil beneath; and the eight houses, with an estimated two to three families living inside each, can now be found literally hanging on edge — with their fate hanging in the balance.
The uncertainty of their families’ safety has kept affected residents nervous for months.
Joel Espinosa, 52, told Cebu Daily News that he has not been sleeping well in the past several months especially when it rains at night.
“Mao gyud na among gikagul-an nga inag gabie angat ting-uwan, dili mi makatarong og katulog. Sige mi og katugaw. Sige lang jud mig hangyo sa NHA. Wa gyud gihapon nila atimana (That’s what we’re most worried of especially at night when it rains, we cannot sleep tight. We are always worried. We’ve been requesting the NHA to look into this, but they haven’t attended to us),” he said of his house which is among those situated at the edge of the cliff in Lower Tac-an.
Espinosa said that on several instances, rainshowers have caused the soil to erode in the area and with sustained rains, he feared that soon, it will be his house going down the cliff along with the loose soil.
Residents like Espinosa have all reason to fear.
Just last month, a 10-month-old boy fell from one of the eight houses and into the river when his mother failed to notice him stepping out of the house.
Fortunately, the toddler only suffered a small cut on his forehead which needed to be stitched.
After receiving an urgent letter for assistance from Budlaan barangay captain Nerissa Antolihao, Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella visited the area yesterday morning.
“This is an emergency situation. Should we wait for something to happen before acting on this?” an alarmed Labella said when he saw several homes just sitting right at the edge of the 18-foot cliff.
In her letter last Tuesday, Antolihao told Labella that aside from the rains, the constant stream of water from the river, which strengthens during rains, also contributed to the continuous erosion of the soil.
“I think we still have a budget from this year for this,” said Labella, adding that he will ask City Hall’s engineering office to make a Program of Works and Estimate (POWE) to build a riprap.
Labella will also ask the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) to assess the area and to recommend whether or not affected families should stay or leave their homes immediately.