Aquino ally seeks probe of P352-B flood control projectBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
An ally of President Benigno Aquino has asked the House of Representatives to scrutinize the P352-billion flood control project the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is preparing for Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
In a resolution, Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon said “there is a need to assure our people that this flood control plan and the projects that are going to be undertaken in support of this plan are based on a holistic study.”
Biazon said the master plan should “consider some factors such as changing weather patterns, changed topography of areas due to urbanization and development, forest denudation and even such concerns as the creation of new employment centers to decongest existing urban centers.”
Before the congressional inquiry could officially begin, Biazon quizzed Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson on the matter at Thursday’s hearing on the agency’s proposed P165.5-billion budget for next year.
Shopping list of projects
Singson said the P352-billion flood control budget would cover a long “shopping list of projects and possible interventions” covering “the greater Metro Manila and Laguna Lake area.”
He said the list included the Pacific tunnel and Parañaque spillway.
“We’re going through the process of identifying which ones should be implemented,” he told the House committee on appropriations.
Biazon, whose city was heavily affected by flooding caused by the recent monsoon rains and the swelling of Laguna de Bay, told Singson that he had sought the inquiry “so that Congress may be informed on what is on the line” on the massive project.
A DPWH official earlier said the flood management plan would run up to 2035 and would cover a total of 11 infrastructure projects, such as a P198.43-billion dam in flood-prone Marikina City.
According to a previous Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the master plan would also include drainage improvements in Manila (P27.2 billion); East Manggahan Floodway and improvement in Cainta and Taytay rivers (P26 billion); Malabon-Tullahan river improvements (P21.6 billion); Meycauayan river improvements (P14.04 billion); Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan river improvements (P8.631 billion); land-raising for small cities around Laguna Lake (P7.15 billion); and improvement of inflow rivers to Laguna Lake (P637 million).
At the budget hearing, Singson was swamped with inquiries from different lawmakers on how the DPWH could assist in infrastructure projects intended to mitigate flooding in their respective areas.
One such lawmaker was Cavite Representative Lani Mercado-Revilla, who recalled how her district was severely flooded recently.
Singson pledged assistance, but also took the opportunity to appeal to local executives to require subdivision or mall developers to come up with their own “water retarding ponds,” as is apparently the practice in other countries.
“May I suggest—very strongly—(that) for example in low-lying areas, that local governments, before they approve subdivision plans, require impounding before water is discharged into the city drainage system,” he said.
“Otherwise, our problem is we would just continue excavating and expanding the drainage because we didn’t know that all of these developers, all of a sudden, would discharge (their floodwaters),” he added.
Singson noted that city drainage systems in many areas were “not designed to take all the runoff water coming from (structures built by) the developers.”
He cited the practice in Japan where “tennis courts and basements of auditoriums and stadiums” were designated to contain the “excess flow of water.”