Tolentino: Metro can never be flood resistantBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–Efficient pumping stations and the cleaning of waterways may reduce flooding in the country’s capital but the metropolis can never be fully flood-resistant, the chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority told the Senate committee on climate change on Thursday.
MMDA chair Francis Tolentino said some areas in Metro Manila are below sea level and no amount of flood control infrastructure and intervention could stop waters from rising in these communities.
“What I’m saying … is that Metro Manila can never be flood-resistant but it can be flood-resilient,” Tolentino said in Thursday’s Senate committee hearing on last week’s flooding of Metro Manila and nearby provinces due to heavier than usual monsoon rains.
“The people of Marikina in Tumana, those in Barangay Imelda [in Quezon City] can pick themselves up immediately but in terms of the necessary infrastructure, we can’t raise the entire Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) because it’s below sea-level,” he added.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate panel on climate change, asked Tolentino whether a strict implementation of the law that mandates the segregation of solid waste, new pumping stations and the cleanup of the waterways would affect the floods, the MMDA official said they could only mitigate.
“It will reduce. It won’t be as serious,” Tolentino said.
Tolentino also indicated that the flood control infrastructure is already obsolete. He said Metro Manila now has 51 pumping stations, many of which were built in the early 1970s. He said all are working but most of them are “due for replacement.”
“Consider that these were built circa 1973. If you take into account the wear and tear, these really won’t do anymore,” Tolentino said.
Interviewed after the four-hour hearing, Legarda agreed with Tolentino but stressed the need for measures on how the whole country should adapt to climate change that brings stronger rains and soil subsidence that brings down communities to a lower level and more prone to floods.
“We may not be resistant to floods but we can be resilient. Another word for resiliency is adaptive. We can change our lifestyle according to these changes in the situation,” said Legarda, who hails from the flood-prone area of Malabon.
“We can decrease the flood. Widen the rivers, widen the lakes, relocate those in the soft soil and those in the danger areas, where the waters are expected to rise. There’s a solution to alleviate the condition,” she added.
Tolentino said one of the agreements reached during a meeting of the Metro Manila mayors on Wednesday was the identification of the informal settlers who’d be relocated from the region’s waterways.
He said the Department of the Interior and Local Government would issue a circular to the mayors for this objective.
Tolentino said it was also agreed with the Department of Public Works and Highways that there should be new pumping stations near the Romualdez Creek to solve the flooding around the Manila City Hall such as those that affect the Lagusnilad underpass, Arroceros and Intramuros areas.
He said another new pumping station was proposed for the Maytunas Creek for flooding in Mandaluyong.
Tolentino said there’s also a plan to elevate the E. Rodriguez Bridge in Quezon City for the water under to freely flow and address flooding in the Talayan and nearby areas.