Press Release
July 19, 2013

Recto wants Metro Manila's P351-B anti-flood master plan scrutinized

Sen. Ralph Recto has asked the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the viability of the approved P351-billion over-all master plan on flood management in the National Capital Region, which is by far the most ambitious and expensive flood control program ever crafted by the national government.

"Questions continue to inundate our minds as to the effectiveness of this master plan, especially so when flood waters continue to debilitate almost the whole of Metro Manila nine months after this plan was approved," the senator said.

"And before we are neck-deep in doubts if indeed we are wisely spending P351 billion in taxpayers' money on this project, a congressional inquiry is in order with the end in view of ensuring a comprehensive and cost-efficient solution to the flooding problem in the metropolis."

In filing Senate Resolution No. 6, Recto took note of the flash floods that virtually crippled Metro Manila last month, submerging major roadways, clogged waterways, rendered intersections impassable and virtually paralyzed public transport, leaving thousands of commuters stranded.

"The flash floods of June have resulted to cancellation of classes, offices and shutting down of other workplaces, which has impacted negatively on productivity," he said.

He explained that the P351-billion flood control master plan, which took 22 years to make, was approved by the national government last year. Its implementation will be spearheaded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

"The master plan on flood management - the most expensive and ambitious at P351 billion -- is considered the most urgent that an initial amount of P5 billion has been approved to jumpstart it," Recto said.

The long-term plan, he added, would cover the infrastructure needs of 11 flood-prone areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces and would see completion by 2035.

Recto said that the initial seed money of P5 billion will bankroll the most urgent needs in terms of spending for the improvement of floodways and drainage systems and river capacities in Metro Manila, Central Luzon (Region III), and CALABARZON (Region IV-A).

He however noted that according to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), unless the DPWH completes its 70 ongoing drainage projects in Metro Manila such as a flood interceptor in the Espana-Blumentritt area, the metropolis should brace for more floods.

"We need to provide immediate relief to the public against flash floods that threaten Metro Manila during heavy downpour of rain. If we are spending P351 billion in this project, we should know if it will be effective," Recto said.

The lawmaker from Batangas bared that a University of Illinois study conducted by Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo showed that overpumping of groundwater has caused Metro Manila and other highly populated areas to sink 20 mm to as much as 90 mm a year particularly in Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan and CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) area.

A separate local study, he said, indicated that 41.02% of the 273 esteros, creeks, and tributaries in NCR are now virtually "ghosts" or missing as many of these are actually buried under road networks or with establishments built on top of them decades ago.

"This is added to the fact that authorities like the DPWH and MMDA have singled out the clogged waterways and blocked drainages as the main culprits of the crippling flash floods," Recto noted.

What worsens Metro Manila's flood predicament is the presence of garbage-dumping informal settlers living near these waterways and drainages.

Malacanang has said that it was determined to relocate some 20,000 informal settlers living near waterways, and to file appropriate charges against those who will hinder this project.

Of the 100,000 informal settlers in Metro Manila, 60,000 live near waterways and of this number, some 20,000 are located near the government's priority waterways whose mere presence put at risk the well-being of 2.2 million Metro Manila residents.

These eight priority waterways identified by the DPWH are San Juan River, Pasig River, Tullahan River, Maricaban Creek, Manggahan Floodway, Estero Tripa de Gallina, Estero de Maypajo, and Estero de Sunog Apog.

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