Aquino urges public cooperation in NCR flood management plan

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday, August 27, appealed for public cooperation in the implementation of his administration's flood management master plan for Metro Manila which is envisioned to ease the perennial problem.

Aquino made the appeal at the Rizal Technological University in Mandaluyong City, where Singson had presented the plan.

"Nagsisikap nga tayong tugunan ang lahat ng kayang tugunan, at ang panawagan ko po: Makiisa at dagdagan ang pang-unawa at pasensiya. Sa inyo namang pakikiambag, masisiguro nating sabay-sabay tayong uunlad," he said.

(We are striving to address every concern if we can. My appeal: Please cooperate and be more understanding and patient. With your cooperation, we will all progress.)

He stressed the importance of implementing the "solution" which would expectedly worsen traffic in affected areas.

"Ngayon, ang solusyon po natin: Kailangang komprehensibo, buo, at malinaw na Flood Management Master Plan na iprinesenta ni Secretary Babes Singson kanina. Kasama po dito ang ginagawang Main Drainage Project para sa Mandaluyong," he said on Thursday, August 27.

(Our solution: It has to be a comprehensive, complete, and clear Flood Management Master Plan as presented by Secretary Babes Singson a while ago. This includes the Main Drainage Project for Mandaluyong which is under construction.)

He said it is clear that the metropolis needs catchment areas for flood waters, but the question is, are there areas in Metro Manila where such infrastructure can be built? The President said an aerial view of the capital region said otherwise.

"Puwedeng magtayo ng cisterns gaya doon sa Fort Bonifacio doon po sa Burgos Circle, pero kaakibat po niyan ang pagbubungkal ng lupa, na lalong magpapasikip sa trapiko," Aquino said.

(We can build cisterns like the ones in Fort Bonifacio, in Burgos Circle, but this would require digging up the ground which would only further congest traffic.)

Flooding remains a perennial problem in the metro, especially during rainy season. Amid the already worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila, sudden heavy rains could even bring traffic to a standstill for a few hours. (READ: Places to avoid: Flood-prone areas in Metro Manila)

"Ayon sa DPWH, wala tayong sapat na drainage capacity para sa buong National Capital Region at mga karatig-bayan. Idiin ko lang: ‘Yung mga kanal at estero natin, 'di naman kakayanin ang malaking volume ng tubig," Aquino explained.

(According to the DPWH, we do not have enough drainage capacity for the whole National Capital Region and the surrounding provinces. I want to emphasize: Our gutters and waterways can't handle large volumes of water.)

Aquino added that in Metro Manila, only Manila and a part of Makati have sewerage and septic systems.

"Siyempre po, kailangang magkaroon ng isang buong plano na ginawa na nila, i-implement lang natin. Meron talagang lohika ‘yung paglalagay nitong mga sistemang ito (Of course, we need to have an entire plan that we will just implement. There is logic in putting these systems in place)," he said.

But Aquino admitted the process will take time as it involves not only Metro Manila, but even surrounding provinces. (READ: How do you solve the metro's flood problem?)

He called on the public to be more understanding and patient as the government carries out the flood management master plan, in anticipation of issues on the right of way and opposition from those who would be affected by it.

"Ganyan po ang kinakaharap natin. Sa paglaban sa baha, hanggang paglalatag ng imprastruktura, at maging sa pagsasaayos ng trapiko, ang namamayaning kaisipan ay ganito: 'Okay kami sa solusyon, okay kami sa konstruksiyon, huwag lang kami ang maiipit sa implementasyon,'" the President said.

(That is what we're facing. In fighting the flooding problem, to laying out the infrastructure, and also in traffic management, the dominant mentality is this: 'We're okay with the solution, we're okay with the construction, for as long as we're not inconvenienced.')

He added: "Mahirap ho yatang walang mapeperwisyo. Aaminin ko po: Lahat ng problema, gusto nating tugunan – at kung puwede, nagawa na sana natin ito kahapon pa. Pero may mga limitasyon sa kung ano ang maaari nating gawin, at hindi naman puwedeng agad-agad ang pagpapatupad sa isang hakbang.

(I think it would be difficult for no one to be inconvenienced. I admit: We want to solve all the problems – and if possible, we could've solved them yesterday. But we have limitations on what we can do, and we can't immediately implement a plan.) – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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