Economic cost of floods


The government was pleased that casualties from last week’s unusually heavy monsoon rains were kept to a minimum. The economic losses caused by the severe flooding in Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces, however, have been huge.

The economy virtually came to a halt—financial markets were closed, transportation around the metropolis was in chaos, factories in affected areas were shut down, air travel was affected as roads going to the airport became impassable and crucial infrastructure, such as a portion of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway or SCTEx, was destroyed. The Department of Agriculture estimates that damage to crops could amount to P2.6 billion. According to the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association, insurance companies are expected to process P3 billion worth of claims for homes and cars damaged by Tropical Storm “Maring” and the southwest monsoon or habagat.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimates that 1.7 million people were affected by last week’s calamity. It said floods covered 1,181 barangays in 112 municipalities, 31 cities and 16 provinces in Luzon and Metro Manila. The floods also closed 72 roads and two bridges. Placed under a state of calamity were Bataan, Pampanga, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal and several cities and municipalities even in Metro Manila.

Since the massive floods caused by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009, one main cause of this calamity has been identified—the tributaries bringing rainwater out of the metropolis have been occupied and blocked by illegal settlers. The massive floods were repeated in 2010, in August last year and again last week, when Maring enhanced the southwest monsoon to dump more rainfall on Luzon than Ondoy did.

The government estimates that some 60,000 families in Metro Manila live on waterways. Some business establishments are as guilty. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, for instance, has also identified at least two buildings illegally standing on tributaries in Mandaluyong. Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson noted that many other buildings and structures were standing on waterways, blocking the flow of water out of the capital region.

There are permanent solutions that the government is looking into. Singson has cited the construction of the so-called Blumentritt interceptor in Manila, a three-kilometer pit to temporarily store water that will be ready by July next year, and a similar project in Mandaluyong circle.

These are part of the ambitious P352-billion flood control master plan of the DPWH that aims to rehabilitate 15 major pumping stations and drainage channels in Metro Manila and restore its surrounding natural waterways. It also plans to revive the dredging project and the construction of dikes in the Laguna Lake. The plan was approved last year and projects in the Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela or Camanava area, Marikina, Pasig and Manila began in December 2012 and January this year.

The government also plans to construct a “road-ring dike” around Laguna de Bay to slow the rise of floodwaters. Singson referred to the road dike as the C6 Extension to Laguna that will be placed under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) law soon.

In all these, the cost-effective solution that requires only a lot of political will is the removal of all illegal settlers and structures occupying the waterways. No less than the DPWH chief had noted that in reducing flooding in Metro Manila, the first order of business for the government was to clear waterways of garbage, reduce siltation and relocate illegal settlers. He said Metro Manila’s waterways now have a carrying capacity of only 30 percent due to heavy siltation. However, the silt could not be removed by simply dredging the waterways; it will require the removal of illegal settlers.

It is time for the executive branch to force local government units to remove all illegal structures on waterways in their areas of jurisdiction. Removing illegal settlers from these tributaries may prove difficult for some local politicians who rely on their votes during elections, but such an action will be for a greater good.

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  • Jao Romero

    squatters and a few buildings? what’s that to a city sitting on top of a waterway? but i guess now that its revenues are so big other mayors are vying to make it part of their territory, we’ll just have to ignore it’s part of the problem, won’t we?

  • AlexanderAmproz

    In the countryside it’s the legal illegal logging who is producing floods and landslide’s

    In the cities it’s poor corrupt drainages and carelessness

    Most of the Philippines natural calamities impacts are man made,
    Rescue’s, help yourselves style are, and opportunities times for scoundrel’s controlling aid and relief’s, in case it can go thru Political money filters.

    Do the corruption fruits are ripe enough to produce reactions ?

    Bahala to the death ?

  • Weder-Weder Lang

    It’s bad enough even without the floods. On a good day, Metro Manila traffic jam according to one study already costs several hundred thousands, totaling to around P2 billion annually. On a bad day like the Great Inundation of 2013 that put PNoy’s Daang Matuwid under water, the bill goes up to several billions more. But things don’t have to be this way. In fact, the flooding in the nearby areas of Metro Manila could have been mitigated. And that’s what this editorial tiptoed around and took great pains not to mention:

    “When PNoy’s administration took over in 2010, the plan to dredge Laguna de Bay was arbitrarily scrapped. The Belgian government was shocked. The companies that have mobilized financing for this urgent project have sought international arbitration. The very costly proceedings have commenced, causing our government large amounts of money in legal fees. If we lose the arbitration case, the Republic will end up compensating the foreign companies in the billions without any dredging ever happening.” (Submerged by Alex Magno in Philstar 22-Aug-2013)

    If anything, this is a classic example of how a bad political decision can lead to catastrophic consequences to lives, limbs and livelihoods. As if torrential downpours are not bad enough, a politicking president made it even worse. Now that Daang Matuwid’s credibility is under water, swamped by silt and mud, PNoy is slowly drowning in this man-made calamity of his own making. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t get to drag the rest of the country down with him.

    • farmerpo

      Reminiscent of the scrapping of the Bataan Nuclear Plant. Any idea not my idea is bad idea. Keeps you down, all the time.

      • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

        both Aquino.

  • regd

    How many times do I have to tell you people that the real problem on flooding is one and only one – THE STORMWATER!

    And the only and best solution to control it is through STORMWATER MANAGEMENT! Which means it must be controlled from the source (implying upstreams). And we don’t even have one! Our DPWH and Irrigation Department is so inept or lazy they do not even have a guideline like the rest of developing countries has. They only see what’s in front of them and attempts to solve it, they need to think that far ahead.

    Stormwater detention and retention management will help alleviate these flooding problems. Or even better, go and emulate Malaysia’s SMART TUNNEL implementation. It solve multiple problems.

  • Fulpol

    first you should ask: “where will the water go?”.. looking for the exit of massive water..

    and not, “who stops the water from flowing?” blaming the illegal settlers..

    water from Sierra Madre run down to Marikina river to Laguna De bay.. waters from Metro Manila run to pasig and marikina and goes to Laguna de Bay and Manila de bay.. these are the exits.. but these exits are overflowing too.. so they will build a dike around Laguna de Bay to avoid overflowing..

    the waterways in metro Manila are heavily silted.. from what cause? erosion, garbage and human feces? so to they need to remove illegal settlers to clean the waterways..

    but is the carrying capacity of waterways can mitigate flooding?.. no.. it won’t.. so there is a need for massive construction of big drainage system.. either as waterways or temporary storage of water..

    they should build drainage with 10 feet high and 10 feet wide.. people can able to clean inside or do some water treatment for consumption.. every major roads and even open spaces like golf courses and parks, they should build drainage like those.. this is like creating more waterways and water storage..

    • AlexanderAmproz

      Developed Countries have a double swages system, one for clear water going directly to the sea, an other one going to the water plan’s for treatment.
      For clear water swages, some discharge tunnel should drive the water excess directly to the sea. Its work perfectly for the countries enjoying it, never flooded !
      The Philippines isn’t able to cares Peoples and administration’s, how do you want to care of water, seas or land ?
      The Philippines did not have yet understood Education is more important than gun totting, death squad, private armies, AFP included.

      No hope for the moment to copy any successful countries, even not next door Singapore and Hong Kong !

      An incompetent and corrupt leadership question, not money !

  • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

    there is no single solution.
    1. yes. remove squatters. all of them. make them fertilizers so they wont disturb the metro again.
    2. make marshlands and wetlands as themselves again. i.e. SM developed a marshland/wetland at sucat, Paranaque. its supposed to absorb flood water.
    3. proceed with dredging of laguna de bai, pasig river, Marikina river and all tributaries in metro manila.
    4. restore reclaimed streams and canals. proceed with the 1970 plan on an overflow/spillway from laguna de bai.
    5. build the Marikina high dam to suspend the release of waters from sierra madre mr.
    6. CAVITEX—> its blocking the waters from inland cavite. make multiple bridges from it to permit rapid drain. and again, do #1 in that area.
    7.restore the clogged Spanish drainage system (the red brick drains)
    8. transfer businesses outside metro manila. eliminate political dynasties for these businesses to develop.
    9. Install more large conduit networks with pumping stations along the coast.
    10. Raise the roadways of metro manila by half a meter.
    11. improve garbage collection, disposal and imposition of penalties to violators.
    12. impose CTC on all metro residents for its funding.
    13. divert 2013 and 2014 PDAF to fund this immediately.
    14. look for JLN for supplemental funding.
    15. liquidate all assets of anomalous politicians since cory Aquino’s time for further funding. (include enrile of course)
    16. Privatize BIR of metro manila if funding is still low. they are pocketing budget big time and henares is the lead. (she never caught and advertised anyone whereas I know of several hundreds of people as victims.)
    17. Privatize customs and treat it as the same.
    18. conduct a census of metro manila again.
    19. castrate Filipinos/ ligate Filipinas who make more children than they can take care of. urban poor people whine more that the rural poor people.
    20. increase budget of education so children can go up to college for free. source the funds from legitimizing drugs.
    21. tax the church. that’s one of the business that continuously grows. its the principal to most if not all crimes and hypocrisy.
    22. we can not solve all problems at the same time so… lets be part of a rigid straight path. Im all for this concept but not with the presidents procedure.

    • mark pogi

      Easier said than done panyero XD

  • unokritiko

    The problem of this inutil government with its inutil offices handling this floods are not technically oriented they just base it on logic which is fundamentally very wrong indeed. In technical matters lawyers are not qualified to substantiate the technicalities of work to be done.
    like this a road ring like dam to be constructed along the perimeter of laguna de bay will not solve the problem at all or even dredging of the silt will do it temporarily but for short period of time( good for the DPWH they will have plenty of money in their pockets).
    Floods is mix with silt combined that is why the color of water is like coffee with milk.

    for a long term solution though, opening a man made river going to pacific ocean will do the job most!!You need first a geologist to study the level of the sea water in the shoreline of both manila and pacific. see the difference of it and sure it is in the height of meters. Then you can calculate the volume of water that can flow towards any shore during low tide. and this will ease the level of laguna and the silt goes directly to the shore.
    You inutil people of DPWH dont be dumb enough to study this matter!!

    • AlexanderAmproz

      Did you land from Mars during the last rain ?

      Sorry, you are from an upside down Colony Education deprived of any common sense since Magellan.

      What is needed is a tunnel to Mars, they lack of water?

      NB: for your info, the seas level is the same all around the World, before Jesus they know it already.

      • unokritiko

        you really have a very tiny brain less than an ant!!
        even my six year old grand son can understand it. Give you a little info since your brain is a little bit tiny or to have little my friend, you heard I think about high tide and low tide!!! now tell me if sea level are the same all over?!!!
        Please do search some more about meteorology for you to understand to what i wrote here before you make another response.

        Shame and a pity to a person similar to you. You are not thinking my friend, think some more

    • Descarte5E

      Just a piece of info for you, sea level is the same whether South China sea or the Pacific ocean so it is the standard reference of height measurement, buildings, mountain, altitude of a plane, water level in a dam, river or Laguna lake. Example, at the height of the floods, the water level in the Marikina river reached 19 meters above sea level, means it’s 19 meters higher than the level of water in Manila Bay level at 0.0 tide level.

      • unokritiko

        everybody knows that sea level is standard and its a reference all over the world but you are dead wrong my friend.
        Is the sea level equal during high tide and low tide?? if you say yes then you need some more researching. include in your research too the gravitational pull of the moon.
        wikipedia is waiting for you

      • Descarte5E

        the reference is 0.0 sea level, e.g. low tide can be at 0.3 m above sea level, while high tide can be as high as 1.5 m,

      • unokritiko

        This is what I want to point out this particular displacement of sea water. I believe that the sea water level is not the same in manila and pacific side of luzon were laguna lake can flow during this displacement period. Also since i have a little think tank here lets the geologist do the job for this matter. 1 meter displacement is plenty of water that can be drain in laguna.

  • Descarte5E

    “A drop of prevention is worth a cubic meter of corrective measure”
    That is the economic cost of flood without those flood prevention measures in place.

  • alisto101

    May pera sa baha, kung walang baha hindi magkapera yan mga hinayupak na opisyal natin. Alam yan ng MMDA, DPWH, LLDA at Malacanang. . Instead of putting a billion for waterways that will solve the problem permanently, they are doing a make up solution. . Economy wise sa mga bulsa ng nakaupo sa administration. .

  • Nic Legaspi

    Revisit the LINA LAW! It’s emboldening the squatters! They’re starting to think that just being squatters entitles them to free housing from the government.

    • AlexanderAmproz

      The Squatters are showing Clergy, Government, Politician’s and elites guiltiness and incompetences !

      What do you think about land grabbing, logging, seas depletion’s, pollution’s, systematic corruption, Natives Mass Murder’s, failed Education, failed Justice, etc. ?

      May I suggest you to look at the problems roots, not at the scapegoat’s…

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