TAYTAY, Rizal – These should have been done long ago to mitigate flooding: constant desiltation and identify catchment areas.
It will always be like this in the metropolis and nearby areas when heavy rains land unless government officials put in place flood mitigating measures and sediments in the Laguna de Bay and its tributaries are rid of.
Taytay Mayor Joric Gacula, in a statement, admits Taytay, unfortunately, a low-lying area and prone to flooding.
Gacula said with the series of recent typhoons – Quinta (international name Molave), Rolly (Goni), Siony (Atsani), Tonio (Etau), and Ulysses (Vamco) — flooding in Taytay was the worse.
“We were literally submerged under water because the water coming from the upland is spilling from all over. Hindi na kaya ng mga waterways na dinadaluyan nito; plus the heavily-silted Laguna de Bay.”
Laguna de Bay and the rivers that flow out of the lake were already heavily silted and needed to undergo massive desilting, he said. “Our flood control projects are in place. So as our mitigating measures. Pero these were all literally decimated because of the heavily silted lake and waterways,” Gacula said.
P18-B Desilting Plan
During the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, there was a proposed P18-billion desilting project. The excess soil and sediment from this massive desilting project were supposed to be used to build a circumferential road around Laguna de Bay.
“However, the project was scrapped in 2016. Interestingly, the Philippine government was ordered to pay close to P1 billion in damages after former President Benigno Aquino III unilaterally cancelled the P18-billion flood control venture, the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project,” Gacula recalled.
No less than the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled on January 23, 2017 that “former President Benigno Aquino III’s unilateral cancellation in 2011 of a Belgian firm’s P18-billion flood-control venture, the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project, was illegal and unfair.”
ISCID ordered the Philippine government to pay the Belgian dredging firm Baagerwerken Decloedt En Zoon (BDZ) P800 million, plus interest costs from 2011 onwards.
The idea of putting up catchment basins where floodwater could be stored and released during the dry season was already proposed in the past.
Gacula said this would have prevented flooding in the plains area and, at the same time, make use of rainwater instead of allowing it to just flow uselessly to the sea.
Aside from Taytay, other lakeshore towns were inundated and submerged under deep floodwater after Ulysses’ heavy downpour last week.
Close to a hundred thousand people were affected. (Photos by Aimee Rose Arguelles Manda)