In an interview with reporters, De Lima said President Benigno Aquino III has instructed an inter-agency working group, which included the Department of Justice (DOJ), to concentrate its efforts on eight “priority waterways,” including the San Juan River and the Tullahan River.
Encroachment on waterways, either by informal settlers or private establishments, has been one of the factors behind severe flooding in Metro Manila during the rainy season.
Aquino, during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, mentioned that the DOJ is preparing cases against those who constructed buildings that prevent waterways from functioning properly.
De Lima said the inter-agency group has conducted ground surveys on these waterways based on satellite images and other sources.
“Alam po natin iyong mga waterways, esteros, creeks… These are properties of public dominion and therefore not susceptible to appropriation or to private ownership,” De Lima said.
“Nadiskubre namin na mayroong mga properties o mga encroachments o structures, may properties na may titulo at ang mga properties nila ay nage-encroach sa three-meter buffer zone,” she added.
De Lima said the two cases to be filed in the next two weeks would be considered “pilot cases” and would be for “cancellation or revocation of title.”
She also said the inter-agency team is already preparing to send out notices to owners of these structures encroaching on these waterways.
De Lima said that local government units in concerned areas would also be conducting demolition operations against properties of informal settlers in these waterways.
After suing private owners of establishments encroaching on waterways, the inter-agency group would next determine administrative liability of local government officials for allowing these illegal establishments to be built. — Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News