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PNoy, tires and floodwaters

President Aquino says the government has 80 ongoing projects to mitigate flooding

ENDANGERED. Many Metro Manilans live in hazardous areas

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III defended the government’s efforts to prevent massive flooding, saying the situation has actually improved—as proven by tires.

When asked by a reporter what his directives were regarding the “quick-rising floodwaters,” Aquino said that on the contrary, the low level of floods in Metro Manila has shown the effectiveness of the government’s prevention methods.

Well, teka muna, ‘yung mabilis tumaas ang tubig ng baha. ‘Yung pictures that I saw in the papers, para bang ‘yung tire hindi naman na-submerge up to half of the tire. Palagay ko, may pruweba na ‘yon and hinighlight [na noong] may flood, parang barely nako-cover ‘yung rubber portion ‘nung tire, ‘yung sa ilalim,” he said on Thursday, June 20, on the sidelines of a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) event. “Proof yata na mukhang effective ‘yung mga pinaggagawa ni (DPWH) Secretary (Rogelio) Singson na ipinangako sa atin. Malaki ang problema pero mapapabilis ‘yung paghupa ng mga baha.”

(Hold on. Your comment that floodwaters are quick rising… the picture that I saw in the papers showed that the tires were not submerged halfway. I think this is proof, and it highlights that while there’s flood, it barely covers the rubber portion of the bottom of the tire. I think that’s proof that Secretary Rogelio Singson’s promise to us is effective. The problem is big, but we can make the floods subside more quickly).

Aquino went on to explain specific efforts the government is undertaking to control the floods—including construction of watersheds, clearing drainage and filing cases against those guilty of worsening floods. He admitted it will take a couple of decades to implement all flood control measures.

“To be honest, it will take 20, 25, 35 years for the entire thing to be done, or 20-25 years for watershed management. This means we plant trees, we build a system so that these won’t be illegally logged and remove the watershed again, plus the actual construction,” he said.

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More than 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, generating floods and landslides, which bring widespread death and damage to the country.

Unusual measures

Aside from efforts to stop illegal logging in the Sierra Madres which has contributed to the strong flow of river waters, and re-planting trees through the National Greening Projects to restore the watersheds, Aquino said “there are 80 ongoing projects,” not of DPWH alone.

He said the relocation of 20,000 informal settlers is ongoing, as well as the cleaning of drainage canals and the construction of road dikes.

Aquino also mentioned his order to the Philippine National Police to investigate whether the clogging of drainages with plastic and stone was deliberate or accidental. He said he has also asked the Department of Justice to file cases against those who have built structures along the esteros.

He said government is also coordinating with 32 various agencies that deal with water through the National Water Resources Board. Aquino explained there are different agencies managing hydroelectric dams, watershed, water districts, irrigators and others.

Aquino said he reiterated to local government units, down to the barangay captains, that it is their responsibility to conduct an inventory of informal settlers in their areas, and to create a solution to the problem—or face charges.

The inventory, he said, will show if the informal settlers return to their old homes, and will track if the number of informal settlers in an area actually increased. –