Press Release
October 5, 2009

Zubiri to DPWH: Set up arterial waterways

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri today challenged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to look for long term solutions to the flooding dilemma of most residents of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The Majority Leader said the dredging of canals, cleaning of esteros and other major clearing up operations at this point in time would not sufficiently address the age-old issue of flood control and management.

He asked the public works officials present during the Climate Change hearing at the Senate on Monday, to present their master plan on how they plan to mitigate the floodwaters coming from the Laguna Lake, Manila Bay and other nearby towns and provinces that inundate the metropolis.

"We cannot just say let's dredge this canal. Let's take out this estero," he said, as he urged the public works department to come up with arterial waterways instead of dredging canals, which will only cost billions in public funds.

Zubiri also asked the public works department to identify and construct arterial waterways that would help divert excess water brought by heavy rains from going to the water basins such as the Pasig River, Manila Bay and Laguna Lake.

In response to the inquiry of the Majority Leader, DPWH assistant secretary Dimas Soguilon said the construction of the spillway in Paranaque City has been planned as early as 1975, but the project remains on the backseat due to costing problem and right of way issue.

The senator said "funding should not be an issue" because while the cost of building an arterial canal would cost government billions of pesos, "but if the budget for dredging Rizal Province, the Laguna Provinces and Metro Manila would be put together the DPWH will have enough money to be able to come up with an arterial canal that will be able to drain Laguna Lake."

Meanwhile, Soguilon explained that "even though we will divert about 300 cubic meters per second to Manila Bay, we cannot solve the flooding problem in Taguig, Pateros, Pasig and Angono because these areas are properly elevated."

He added, the DPWH could not give a go to the spillway project claiming it would "affect the water supply of Paranaque residents due to its open canal design."

He likewise expressed frustration that the residents of Metro Manila, Rizal, Pateros, and Taguig among others had to go through the same dilemma during rainy season due to lack of long term solution to the flooding problem in the country.

He challenged officials of the public works department especially those that will stay even after the end of the Arroyo administration in 2010 to present to the new administration what he believed could be the "best solution to the flooding problem for the next 20 years."

"Bulldozers, dam trucks, backhoe and continuously try to clean the canals and esteros, it will not happen. Because even in Bukidnon we are flooding the Rio Grande in Cotabato, and we are also flooding Cagayan de Oro but the heavy siltation is flooding our river ways," he said.

Zubiri urged the DPWH to join the Senate in its effort to come up with major solution that will help alleviate the impact of Climate Change noting the developing countries such as the Philippines would be the hardest hit unless the agencies concerned mapped out major development in terms of mitigation.

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