As I See It

Dredge the rivers to prevent floods


Last Tuesday, Metro Manila again came to a standstill because of one heavy thunderstorm. Many streets were flooded and traffic even in the streets that were not flooded was reduced to a crawl. It took me more than three hours to get from Makati to Quezon City, a distance that takes only 20 minutes without the floods and the traffic.

I understand that the Department of Public Works and Highways has 76 flood control projects going on at the same time. Its men are digging all over the metropolis to put in bigger drainage pipes. Very well, but hurry it up. I’m afraid, however, that even when the bigger drainage pipes are in place there will still be floods.

Why? Because the waterways are heavily silted, so that they now hold less water. One instance of heavy rain and they overflow their banks. Where will the water from the drainage pipes go if the waterways are full?

The waterways have to be dredged—and soon. Pagasa executive Flaviana Hilario has warned that we are in for more extreme rainfall and this will escalate until 2050. Hilario, officer in charge for research and development, reported in her study that this is due to climate change and will surely inundate many areas in Luzon and the Visayas.

This also means that Metro Manila and other communities living close to rivers must be on high alert for the next few decades. Our flood woes are only beginning and can only worsen unless the government acts quickly. The P25-billion pork barrel fund is being removed from the 2014 budget. Put some of it in flood control, specifically the dredging of waterways.

Let us pray that efforts at solving flooding will not get caught in the political crossfire. This is the fear of residents of Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela), the lowest area in Metro Manila.

Every time there is heavy rain Camanava goes under water, and politicians and other public officials go on another finger-pointing binge. This is exhausting the patience of the residents, who know that the government has already earmarked the proceeds of a P3-billion loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency for a Camanava flood control project.

Local officials complain that they were never consulted on the project. We hope the political irritants are done away with soonest so the government can get its act together and ease the area’s flood woes.

There are two major tasks that need to be done for Camanava. One is building river walls. The area is mostly below sea level, so it is expected that the waters of Manila Bay and the Malabon-Navotas rivers will engulf it during heavy rains and high tides. Already, an old river wall in Malabon collapsed at the height of the monsoon rains last year.

The other task is the dredging of the river that runs through Camanava, especially at the mouth of the river that opens to Manila Bay. That part is where silt and garbage converge, thus preventing the quick outflow of water.

Under a supposed master plan against flooding, the DPWH has also set aside hundreds of millions of pesos for “river improvement” projects, not just for Camanava but also for other flood-prone areas like Marikina. We surmise that the allocation includes funds for dredging heavily silted waterways.

Many river-dredging projects funded by lawmakers’ pork barrel funds have fallen prey to scammers. The government must find ways to assure the public that such projects can be done with transparency and accountability.

The government must also entice the private sector to invest in river-dredging projects. The government can offer nonmonetary incentives to private investors for this endeavor.

But the bottom line is this: The country should not allow efforts to solve our flood problems to be caught in the many political crossfires happening today.

* * *

The group Volunteers against Crime and Corruption has asked the Special Board of Marine Inquiry to expedite the investigation of the collision between Sulpicio Express 7 and MV St. Thomas Aquinas on Aug. 16 near the seaport of Talisay City, Cebu. The tragedy has claimed the lives of 111 passengers as of Thursday morning; 26 are still missing, while 733 have been rescued.

Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna has expressed dismay at the supposed kid-glove treatment of Sulpicio by Marina. Again, Marina has allowed Sulpicio vessels to sail after the Aug. 16 tragedy.

According to testimonies, Sulpicio 7 used the inbound lane while departing the Cebu port, a violation of marine laws. This was corroborated by the captain of Trans Asia Nine, Gallipher Ian Faller, who confirmed that Sulpicio 7 was indeed using the inbound lane.

Like Sulpicio 7, Trans Asia had also just left the Cebu pier, on its way to Cagayan de Oro. It had to overtake on its starboard side (right) to avoid colliding with Sulpicio 7.

Another passenger ship was also called to the investigation. The captain of Ocean Jet 8, Vet Dumaguit, said the outbound Sulpicio 7 was traversing the inbound lane, or the path intended for vessels entering the Mactan Channel.

He said he tried to contact Sulpicio 7 because it was obstructing his path but no one responded. So he decided to pass between Sulpicio 7 and Trans Asia.

Before the collision, Dumaguit said he heard someone from St. Thomas Aquinas trying to call Sulpicio 7. He said he did not hear Sulpicio trying to call St. Thomas Aquinas.

Trans Asia was included in the investigation for failing to respond to the distress call while it was still in the area. Its captain said it was still in shallow waters and risked running aground if it turned back. Besides, he said, the ship was already 56 nautical miles away from the disaster area, and would take a long time to go back.

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  • 82hbf01

    To completely & permanently solve the floods in metro Manila, the best is Marin-gate (by Philippine inventor Robert Marin). . .not the rivers, but Manila Bay water levels has to be brought down. . not by dredging (a temporary solution) but by big pumps. . thrown out into the China Sea. . .There will be as “suez-canal”-type gate at the corregidor area so that the ships can pass. . without bringing up the level of Manila Bay.. .All floods will have to go to Manila Bay. . .the overflow from the Pasig River & Laguna Lake will all go to Manila Bay. . the big pumps will be working. . till the Manila Bay will no longer be seawater. . It is then will be fresh water. . easier & economical to convert into potable water via reverse osmosis. . expect the china sea level will be higher than Manila Bay. . more (reclaimed) lands will be recovered in the area and more construction & buildings will be installed. .The polluted water of the Pasig River going into Manila Bay can be solved by Harry Freires’ GREAT WALL OF PASIG (RIVER). . 2-meter on each side will contain all the dirty septic water of Metro Manila, , and dealth with in each city by Philippine inventor Freires’ NBIRO wastewater treatment Plants (model-200 converts dirty water into potable water; model-300 converts water into fuel; model-400 converts water into electricity). . NOBODY THROW DIRT AT THE CLEAR WATER AT CENTER OF THE PASIG RIVER . . IT IS THE SPRING WATER FROM THE SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAIN RANGE. . FLOWING INTO THE MANILA BAY. . environmental River warriors (converted squatters living on the side of the river) to protect the center of the river to be trained by PRRC /DENR. .Socialized Housing projects will be installed for them. . the Philippines will be a model then of a good ENVIRONMENT & TECHNOLOGY. .. THIS IS THE FLOODS. . Next will be the TRAFFIC PROBLEM, , A 2-STOREY MAIN ROADS IS BEING INVENTED. .

  • talagalangha

    Absolutely correct!

    Meanwhile, the P25.7B PDAF ordered stopped from being released by the SC, might as well be spent right away for the Mega Flood Control project that was ordered halted in 2010 by this yellow president…

    Dapat tapos na ito ngayong 2013…dapat hindi na tayo masyadong binabaha…but nooooo, Pnoy had to stop the project, eh wala namang ipinalit…kasi busy sila pala sa pagnanakaw ng mga pork barrel…

    This is not good for Pnoy, after the release of the Napoles pics…he is done!

    The Aquino legacy is busted…stop wearing those yellow ribbons already, nagmumukha ka tuloy bakla….!

  • Melenggay Laranery

    Have you people remember the six dredgers that they bought (brand new) from Holland? The dredging of rivers was the reason. Where are they now?

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