Must for Cebu to solve flood problem: Dams, drainage

(The Freeman) - July 7, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Three things need to be achieved to solve the continuing flooding problem in Metro Cebu, according to the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board; first is to implement the integrated drainage network master plan; second is to resolve Road Right-of-Way issues; and third is to build big dams.

Engineer Fortunato "Jun" Sanchez, Jr., MCDCB subcommittee chairman on infrastructure and utilities, enumerated the three things during a consultative meeting and forum yesterday morning regarding flood-control planning for Metro Cebu at the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc.

It was attended by various stakeholders from business, government, and civil society. Also present were newly-assumed secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways Mark Villar and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Diño.

Sanchez said three drainage master plans were laid out previously, but in the end he said "nothing was done."

There is a dire need for all stakeholders to act on it especially as Cebu City is a densely-populated city made vulnerable to floods since it is surrounded by mountainous barangays. Rainwater from the sloped areas will sweep through the city heading to the open sea.

The problem is, Sanchez continued, the city has a poor existing drainage system. Also, the width of the rivers has been affected by encroaching illegal structures and business establishments.

For now, experts are focusing on five major river channels in Metro Cebu; the Subangdaku River, Lahug River, Guadalupe River, Kinalumsan River, and Bulacao River.

Although the rivers' discharge points into the sea are wide, the widths of their openings are narrow.

Sanchez presented an image showing that the end of the Subangdaku River which is only eight meters wide as it joins the sea. He said the narrow opening will cause the running water to backflow and flood the streets of the city.

He sampled a solution to solve this problem based on a school-based project study. Providing the necessary easement, he suggested to recover the lost river or creek and to build an open canal for easy and convenient maintenance.

He said flood-control measures can also include building new dams that may also benefit the people with potable water supply, water recharge, and recreation.

Villar assured Cebuanos that the Duterte administration will swiftly and relentlessly solve Metro Cebu's flooding.

  "On behalf of the president, we will deal with this problem swiftly and relentlessly," said Villar during the forum initiated by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Visayas and Mega Cebu yesterday.

Villar said the Duterte administration is deeply concerned about the flooding in Metro Cebu last Friday that caused five to six hours of traffic.

Villar said that the rainfall last Friday in Metro Cebu was only 55 millimeters as compared to typhoon Ondoy that was 400 millimeters, yet it has caused massive flooding here.

"That is already a warning that we should not ignore," said Villar.

Villar further assured the Cebuanos that this administration is ready to face this tough challenge.

"The DPWH and this administration will be very aggressive, very visible during this time we have a major problem. Cebu is a major concern given its geographic location. This is something that we will address. I am looking forward that the lives of the Cebuanos will be improved significantly," Villar added.  

DPWH-7 Regional Director Ador Canlas said among the cause of the flood includes silted and clogged drainage due to improper disposal of garbage. It is also brought about by accumulation of assorted debris materials, constriction of river/creeks system due to encroachment of informal settlers and non-observance of the three-meter river/creek easement.

Canlas also presented DPWH proposed solutions which includes the completion of the Flood Control and Drainage System Master Plan for Metro Cebu, river and waterway improvement, and continued upgrading of drainage system especially in flood-prone areas.   

Canlas also cited the major flood control project in 2016 in Cebu amounting to P731,060,000.  

These projects includes the flood control and drainage improvement project in Bulacao, Kinalumsan, Guadalupe, Lahug and Subangdaku River basins in Cebu City amounting to P422.060 million, Kinalumsan River Flood Control Project, Cebu City worth P70 million and Tejero Channel Improvement Project, Cebu City worth P96 million.  

Diño said he wants to bridge the gap between Malacañang and the Visayas, saying their office does not exist to only cut ribbons and attend launchings.

"I do not want that for my office. I want it very clear because Cebu really needs someone who will bridge and narrow the gap between Malacañang and Visayas which we didn't have for the past six years," Diño said.

Diño also mentioned that RAFI President Roberto "Bobby" Aboitiz asked whom he should immediately lobby to regarding the problems in Cebu.

He said to Bobby, "You don't have to lobby in Manila. You just come to the office. I'll take care of it. I'll lobby for you."

He also said the agenda of the forum is to find solutions to the intensifying flood problem of Cebu and to avoid finger-pointing.

"Because if we start finger-pointing we will never solve the problem. That's why Secretary Mark Villar is here so things will go faster," Diño added.

A joke

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he did not attend the forum yesterday, saying it was a "joke."

In a press conference in his residence in Barangay Guadalupe yesterday, Osmeña said he knows what he wants.

"That's a joke. That's really a joke. They are preying on the ignorance of people. But let me ask you a question. What has the drainage problem have to do with Cebu City? Next question; what has the drainage of Liloan have to do with Cebu City? Next question; what has the drainage of Consolacion got to do with Cebu City? What has the drainage of Cordova have to do with Cebu City? What has the drainage in Lapu-Lapu have to do with Cebu City?" he said.

Osmeña said the only local government unit that the city government shares a common drainage problem with is Mabolo because of the Mahiga Creek.

"What are you talking about the comprehensive drainage project? The only LGU where we have a common drainage problem is the Mahiga Creek. That's it. What does that have to do with Talisay?" he said.

"Before we solve the problem here, we have to have the plan to solve everything? These are people who just like to control the whole Metro Cebu. But to me, that's a joke. They are fooling the people," he added.

When asked how he will address the drainage problem of the city, Osmeña said his administration will implement the P900-million underpass or water catchment project along N. Bacalso Avenue.

Osmeña will follow up with the Department of Public Works In Highways about the approval on his proposal regarding the N. Bacalso water catchment and Tagunol flood control project in 2012.

He said he will also use the Mambaling channel as a pumping system.

Talisay floods

In Talisay City, barangay captains expressed their concerns about the flooding problem to Governor Hilario Davide III yesterday morning at the office of Mayor Eduardo Gullas.

Association of Barangay Councils President Raul Cabañero said that this matter has been a problem for a long time. In many areas, like Sitio Ilang-Ilang Barangay Lagtang, it is difficult for the water to subside even where there is no rain.

Davide said that it is not just Talisay that is facing flooding problems but also the Metro Cebu. He reiterated that he will first look at plan of Gullas about the drainage so that Capitol will arrange necessary aid to the city.

Gullas admitted that it is difficult to solve flooding problems as he just recently assumed his position. He added that the city is located on lower ground and water easily flows to them from neighboring towns and cities.

Gullas clarified that they will implement the comprehensive drainage master plan as soon as possible, especially now that the city has enough budget. — with Iris Mariani B. Algabre andBrenna Rose M. Ibale/BRP (FREEMAN)

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