Press Release
July 9, 2015


Sen. Chiz Escudero is asking for an update on the flood-control projects undertaken by the government to ease flooding in low-lying areas in Metro Manila, where a total of 4,750 hectares are flood-prone.

Escudero said the Senate Committee on Finance, which he chairs, will conduct a mid-year review of the status of flood-control projects implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) within the nation's capital region.

The senator made the statement after torrential rains again brought Metro Manila to a standstill, submerging some areas in waist-deep flood waters and making streets impassable to vehicles.

Escudero said he wants to find out from the MMDA whether it will be able to fulfill its promise to reduce the number of flood-prone areas in the metropolis by 10 percent this year.

"The MMDA has promised that it will work for a 10-percent reduction of flooded areas, or from 4,570 to 4, 105 hectares for a rainfall intensity of less than 40 millimeters per hour and that floodwaters in areas under its jurisdiction will subside 40 minutes to one hour after a downpour measuring less than 40 millimeters per hour," Escudero said, noting that the scope of the flood-prone areas is twice the size of the city of Manila.

These "performance guarantees" are attached to the P2.19 billion subsidy the MMDA will receive from the national government, he said.

He added that on top of the subsidy, the MMDA relies on membership contributions from local governments and income from fees such as those paid by traffic law violators to fund its operations, Escudero added.

Escudero, however, said the P276 million the agency has allocated this year for flood control and sewerage management services in a metropolis 63,600 hectares big and with an estimated daytime population of 15 million, is clearly not enough.

"I am of the position that the national government's subsidy to MMDA, insofar as flood control is concerned, should be increased," Escudero said.

He added: "Hindi lang trabaho ng MMDA 'yan, pero ng pambansang pamahalaan din.

Thus, Escudero said the focus of the review will be on the status of flood-control projects being done by the DPWH in Metro Manila.

On a national scale, the DPWH has a budget of P42.2 billion for flood management services this year, a bulk of which will be spent in Metro Manila.

Among the items in the DPWH's flood control budget for 2015 are DPWH-North Manila Engineering District's allocation of P1.26 billion; P680 million for its Las Pinas-Muntinlupa District Engineering Office; P1.37 billion for its two engineering districts in Quezon City; P460 million for its Malabon-Navotas district office; and P1.6 billion for its National Capital Region's (NCR) First District Office.

These, he said, are on top of allocations booked under the central office of the DPWH and its regional office for NCR.

"Kaya gusto nating tanungin ang DPWH kung ilang porsyento na ba ng 1,295 projects nationwide para sa taong ito ang nasimulan, natapos na or drawing pa lang," Escudero said.

"Sabi kasi ng DPWH sa kanilang performance targets para sa taong ito na 100 percent of flood-control projects will be completed within contract time," the senator said. "Pinangako din nila na 100 percent o lahat ng flood control structures for repair and rehabilitation ay matatapos on time."

"Hindi ko sinasabing madali ang kanilang trabaho. Ang gusto lang natin ay madaliin nila ang kanilang mga ginagawa. At kung anuman ang kulang - sa pondo, kagamitan - malaman ng buong bayan, para masolusyonan ito," he said.

He said that under Secretary Rogelio Singson's leadership, the DPWH has streamlined processes and pursued activities, which resulted in faster completion at lower cost.

"But the problem is he does not operate in a vacuum. Nandyan ang delay sa release ng pondo, merong mga coordination issues sa local governments, plus right-of-way problems, and let us remember that construction is weather-dependent," he said.

Another challenge that the DPWH is facing, according to Escudero, is hiring 1,300 civil engineers it needs.

When the Senate finance committee begins to review the department's spending package for 2016, "it will not be a finger-pointing exercise, but a frank exchange in search of solutions," he said.

Escudero has continuously harped on government's "losing battle against underspending which has caused us to forfeit economic gains and the chance to generate jobs."

Last year, the national government underspent by P303 billion, or 13 percent of the appropriations for 2104.

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