Gordon’s call to stop flooding of fields

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2016 - 9:00am

Every time heavy rains occur in the Sierra Madre, gargantuan floods due to denuded forests in upper Aurora and Nueva Ecija cause soil erosion, which slide down to already shallow and silted rivers, which then destroy weak earth dikes and overruns farm lands with mud, destroying farm lands and the sources of livelihood of hundreds of thousands of farmers along Central Luzon, known as the Rice Granary of the Philippines. The floods always have a delayed impact on low-lying Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac riparian and coastal communities which linger for weeks, interdicting livelihood activity and causing more poverty.

Former Senator and Philippine Red Cross chairman/CEO Richard Gordon, in an interview over DZRH, called for a massive infrastructure effort to prevent and curb floods and stop the cycle of disaster and poverty in Central Luzon. Gordon hails from Central Luzon.

Gordon has called on the government to launch flood-control programs. Top of these is a long-term massive reforestation program using Muntinlupa prisoners with light sentences or prisoners with good behavior to plant and care for the trees continuously. Simultaneously, there should be a continuous desilting program all along the rivers and continuous dredging and deepening with reclamation at the mouths of the rivers along Manila Bay. Then interceptor canals may be built along with mini dams that can collect water for irrigation. In the meantime, an all-out effort must be undertaken to rebuild or armor the dikes as the rivers are desilted.

All these programs would create a positive effect as the programs will pump prime the local economy with economic activity as jobs and capital, transportation and equipment usage, said Gordon, who is running for senator in the May 2016 election. The programs could be undertaken by public private partnership efforts which will create thousands of jobs. Government participation will come from the DOJ, AFP and DPWH.

Gordon stressed that farmers in Central Luzon are facing crisis after crisis because floods caused by recent typhoons such as Lando and Nona have damaged their farms and crops. They cannot even prepare to plant because every time they plant rains come and damage their lands again.

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Of the news reports in yesterday’s STAR, I felt good reading the item about the installation of speed limiters in all covered public utility vehicles. Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, according to STAR reporter Paolo Romero, said the proposed Speed Limiter Act will be tackled by the bicameral conference committee to consolidate and harmonize the versions of the Senate and the House of Representatives. He said he expects the measure to be signed into law before the end of President Aquino’s term.

The measure brings comfort to motorists and pedestrians who live in constant fear of being run over or hit by drivers of PUVs, including buses and jeepneys, hauler or cargo trailers, shuttle services and tanker trucks who are, said Treñas, “speed demons and have no regard for safety.” Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City is particularly notorious for reckless drivers, causing the deaths of pedestrians and smashing of motor vehicles. The measure limits the speed of a motor vehicle to a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour through a speed limiter, a mechanical, electronic or communications system. The installation of speed limiters will be a prerequisite for registration of the covered PUVs, said the lawmaker.

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Here are two good tidings from the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

The first is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Batch ’66 of Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity on Feb. 6 at the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong City. Its sister sorority, Sigma Delta Phi, will participate in the celebration with a Roaring 20s theme.

Busy preparing the Batch ’66 event is Ramon Abad, former PNCC president and DBP chair. He is being assisted by UPAA president Mon Maronilla, Tony Cailao, now PNOC president and Andy Sta. Maria, a successful merger and acquisition lawyer who with his friends will play Ventures and Shadows music reminiscent of the 1960s.

The Upsilon Sigma Phi is the oldest fraternity in the University of the Philippines; Batch ’66 has the largest membership with 47 UP alumni. Some have passed on, like former Philippine ambassador to Washington and Beijing, Willie Gaa, and former anchor of “News Tonight,” Angelo Castro Jr. A memorial service for them will be held in the afternoon of Feb. 5 at the UP Church of the Risen Lord.

Members of the Sigma Delta Phi coordinating with the brods are led by cultural and culinary writer Felice Sta. Maria, APO chair and radio broadcaster Mila Alora, businesswoman Mian Gancayco, Leni Lubi and Narcy David.

Founded in 1933 as a Society for Dramatics and Fine Arts, the 83-year-old Sigma Delta Phi sorority has expanded to other professional fields. Some of its luminaries are the late Philippine STAR founder and publisher Betty Go-Belmonte, former senators Eva Estrada-Kalaw and Maria Kalaw-Katigbak, Supreme Court associate justices Ameurfina Herrera and Flerida Ruth Romero, WTO judge and arbiter Lilia Bautista, human rights activist lawyer Charito Planas, and stage actress Joy Virata.

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The UP Alumni Association (UPAA) will stage the Carillon Concert Season’s second presentation, “Faces of Love” (“Mga Mukha ng Pagmamahal”), featuring the internationally acclaimed UP Arco String orchestra on Friday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m., at the Carillon Plaza at UP Diliman, Quezon City.

The UP Arco String Orchestra, under the baton of Prof. Edna Marcil “Michi” Marquez, won the Silver Band Award (highest score in the string orchestra category) in the 2015 Bratislava International Youth Music Festival competition in Bratislava, Slovakia. The concert will showcase music highlighting sacred love, romantic love, love of country, and love of fellowmen.

Formerly the UP String Chamber Orchestra, the UP Arco has its roots from 1998 during the term of the late Dean Reynaldo T. Paguio. It was conceived to become one of the resident performing groups of the College of Music.

“Faces of Love,” with anchor person Prof. Patricia Brillantes-Silvestre, closely follows the highly successful first concert, “Krismazz Jazz at the Carillon,” held last Dec. 10 which featured the UP Jazz Ensemble conducted by Prof. Raymundo Maigue.

The UP Carillon concert presentations are the brainchild of the UPAA board of directors headed by lawyer Ramon Maronilla. They are staged free of charge for Dilimanians and the public. Only award-winning groups are invited to perform. Part of the proceeds from sponsorships will go to the maintenance and enhancement of the carillon tower and plaza.

The UP Carillon, inaugurated on August 1, 1952, was the contribution of UP alumni led by UPAA to the new Diliman campus after UP transferred from Padre Faura.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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