Senate seeks solution to persistent flooding, flags DPWH’s unfinished flood control dams

As the country continues to absorb the impact of a third typhoon this month, senators on Tuesday sought to conduct hearings with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other concerned agencies to solve the persistent problem of flooding in the country.

During the plenary session on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Majority Floor Leader Senator Joel Villanueva, and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda raised different long-standing issues with the country’s flood control system.

Calling the Senate’s attention to the perennial flooding in his home province of Bulacan, Villanueva urged fellow senators to inquire on the plans and programs of the government regarding the country’s urban drainage system and flood protection of Metro Manila and other vulnerable areas.

He has been calling on the DPWH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and other concerned agencies to come up with programs to address the problem since 2016.

Legarda, who is a known advocate of environment protection and climate change awareness, said the National Power Corporation must update its protocols for the releasing of water from dams during typhoons, taking into consideration the best water route using the land-use plans of areas where Angat, Bustos, and Ipo Dams are located.

Cayetano, for his part, flagged the unfinished flood control dams of the DPWH.

He said it has been 12 years since the unfinished flood control dams were revealed in a Senate hearing, but apparently – with the continuous flooding in Bulacan and surrounding areas – nothing has been done to fully address it.

“Natuklasan n’ung hearing na y’un [na] may flood control part na hindi tinuloy ng gobyerno. And this was more than 10 years ago and after that I thought maaayos na lahat,” he said.

“Baka pwede pong isama ‘yan sa titingnan. Kasi same areas ang binaha nung time na y’un – Tarlac, Pampanga, and Bulacan,” he said.

The senators’ manifestations were referred to the Senate Public Works Committee for appropriate action.

In a media interview the previous day, Cayetano had voiced his desire to scrutinize the DPWH’s proposed budget for 2024 come budget season this August to make sure its budget – the second highest among all government agencies – is allocated to the right infrastructure projects.

He said to be able to mitigate flooding effectively, the DPWH must take a more comprehensive approach, pointing out that 25 percent of the department’s budget this year was put to flood control instead of being utilized for the building of new roads.

“Damay-damay na po. Kung napansin niyo po, ilang beses itinaas ang MacArthur Highway pero hindi naman in-upgrade y’ung iba[ng kalsada] kaya y’ung tubig wala talagang pupuntahan,” he said in the interview.


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