Aquino eyes ‘mega-dike’ to solve Laguna floodingBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
SAN PEDRO, Laguna—The massive flood spawned by the monsoon rains revived talks about the government’s planned solutions to the flooding and the shallowing Laguna de Bay.
But none of these mentioned dredging the heavily silted water body since President Aquino terminated the P18-billion deal with a Belgian dredging company.
In his visit to an evacuation site here Wednesday, Aquino again mentioned the government’s plan to construct a large dike that, he said, would slow down the rise of floodwaters.
“‘Yung gagawin ho para dito sa Laguna de Bay, malawakan po yun. ‘Di po agarang magagawa ‘yan. Ihihinto po natin yung pag-angat ng tubig nang mabilis. Dike na malaking-malaki ‘yan, di ho kapiraso lang at medyo taon ho ang pinag-uusapan natin d’yan” (What we will do for Laguna de Bay, that is large-scale. That cannot be done at once. We will slow down rising levels of waters. That is quite a big dike, not at all small and we are talking here of years),” Aquino said at the Barangay (village) Landayan covered court here, where 336 families (1,331 persons) were housed.
Aquino hopped from an evacuation center in Biñan City to this town and led the distribution of relief packs to the flood victims. He was accompanied by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and briefed by Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman.
It was not the first time Aquino announced the ring road-dike project for the Laguna de Bay. The President mentioned this when he was visiting flood victims in Marikina, Quezon City, Valenzuela, and Navotas in 2012.
Laguna first district Rep. Dan Fernandez said the President also talked about this “solution” when they were in Biñan City Wednesday morning, although the details of the project were not discussed.
“I (also) don’t have the details yet but it’s the megadike (project). The President only mentioned about it and said that (the project) would start soon,” said Laguna Gov. Jeorge “ER” Ejercito on the sidelines of the relief distribution.
Ejercito, in an earlier phone interview at the height of the Habagat, said the government has also been planning to construct an underground spillway although details of it have not yet been disclosed.
On Wednesday, the lake’s water level rose to 12.55 meters, slightly surpassing the 12.50 meter-”critical level” or its maximum holding capacity.
Lake authorities are worried that bouts of rain in the coming months might trigger months-long flooding, as experienced during the 2009 typhoon Ondoy and last year’s Habagat, unless the weather improves in the coming days.
To 64-year-old Luzminda Mendoza, who rode a makeshift raft with her grandson to the evacuation center here on Monday, the only solution is the relocation of the families living along the low-lying lakeshore villages.
Evacuee Flor Maristanez, 67, said they had to endure sleepless nights at the evacuation center as rains enter the covered court and share with hundreds of families a single toilet at the center.
Ejercito said Laguna remained under a state of calamity and placed the number of affected families at 20,000. There are currently 47 evacuation centers in the province, according to him.
In a statement posted in his Facebook account Wednesday afternoon, Ejercito announced suspension of classes in public and private schools in all levels, from preschool to college, on Thursday and Friday to ensure the safety of all students in the province.
He said a skeletal force would be set up in all provincial government offices to render public service and that all Laguna ER Rescue and Relief Operations Team would be on 24/7 operations.
In Bacoor City in Cavite, the body of a man who went missing at the height of Habagat was found floating in a fishpond here Wednesday, raising the number of flood casualties.
Arzay Josue, a 22-year-old construction worker, went missing Monday morning, according to his wife’s statement to the police.
His body was found floating in a fishpond near the victim’s home in Barangay Dulong Bayan in Bacoor City around 8 a.m. Wednesday, said city information officer Kathrina Sanchez in a text message.
Josue’s wife told the police that her husband slipped into the rampaging water and went missing since, Sanchez said. The victim’s family refused an autopsy on the body.