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San Miguel to propose $2-B Metro Manila spillway project

MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is set to propose to the government a $2-billion, 14-meter spillway project that will allow the waters of Laguna de Bay in the east of Metro Manila to flow directly to Manila Bay.

This project, said San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang, would be built at no cost to the government. But the company has one condition – that it be given the right to use the waste materials from Laguna de Bay for power generation.

"I will submit a proposal. The government might allow me to build the spillway. Just give me the rights to use the [waste] materials," Ang said in a media briefing in Makati City on Monday, May 29.

"I won't divulge the details because they (competitors) might go to our technical partner," he added.

The San Miguel president and COO said Laguna de Bay used to be 22 meters deep. But because of garbage and other waste materials, its depth now is just 3.5 meters.

"That's the most important flood-control project instead of dredging. If we secrete all the waste, there will be no more floods in Metro Manila. And because of the proposed spillway, there will be more power generated," Ang said, who also has power and generation businesses under San Miguel unit SMC Global Power Holdings Corporation.

Revival of Parañaque spillway?

It was in 1977 when architect Felino Palafox Jr was commissioned to help develop an urban plan for Metro Manila, under the Metro Manila Transport, Land Use, and Development Planning Project.

As part of the plan's flood control management, two projects were proposed: the Manggahan floodway and Parañaque spillway deals. But only the Manggahan floodway was built.

The administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tried to revive the Parañaque spillway project when Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) triggered massive flooding in 2009, leaving hundreds of people dead and causing around P11 billion in damage. The project, however, did not move forward.

"There will be massive flooding every rainy season in Metro Manila if the government will not do this project," Ang told reporters.

San Miguel has a 345-megawatt (MW) San Roque Hydroelectric Multipurpose Power Project in San Manuel, Pangasinan. This power plant utilizes the Agno River for power generation and irrigation, as well as contributes to flood control and water quality improvement for the surrounding region.

Aside from power generation, San Miguel has investments in food and beverage manufacturing, packaging, and infrastructure. It has been actively bidding for various infrastructure projects across the country. – Rappler.com